Cal Crutchlow has been back on track this week as he returns to his Yamaha test rider duties at Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto.
While the Brit has one more showing as a MotoGP racer for WithU RNF Yamaha at Valencia’s season finale on November 6th, Crutchlow will not be present at the post-race test set for the following Tuesday. Instead he is busy with the final preparations for what factory riders Fabio Quartararo and Franky Morbidelli will receive during their one-day outing on the 2023 YZR-M1.
Quartararo has already commented on the light at the end of the tunnel, in regards to more performance for next season’s machine, however, Crutchlow confirmed there was still a lot to be decided.
“We've been through four stages of engines,” the 36-year said after his best result of the season in the Malaysian GP. “We need more power and we need more top speed okay, but we need to change some other things and this can't be done in a week so we have what we have for now.
“The problem is we can only ride alone,” he continued - a fact made obvious by his own group battles, and struggles, just ouside the top ten last weekend. “This is our biggest problem. When Franky was at the front of our group he just went across to the next one, but it's just whether you're stuck behind people. You can only ride alone. Fabio rode the whole race on his own by the looks of it and he was fine. Great pace.
“Fabio, every time he’s won this year he’s been alone. We need to be able to ride with other people, but on the second lap of the race my front tyre pressure was so high and I thought, ‘this is going to be a long race’ and then I just had to manage it to the end.”
While progress is being made by the Iwata factory, it’s not there yet.
“We test with what we have for now and then let's see for next year,” Crutchlow added. "We need to be able to build a bike that we can ride with other riders and fight with other riders because again, [at the moment] we can only ride alone. Whether that's the engine, the chassis, the grip of the bike, and then it's slow in the straight. It's difficult to manage when you’re with other riders, really difficult.”
Crutchlow has just one more outing on the 2022 race-spec M1 to better his 12th position finish before the season concludes and he returns to his thrice-timed retirement. While for his colleague, Quartararo, it’s the race of his life. 23 points stand between the defending champion and title rival Pecco Bagnaia, with a win for the Frenchman, and 15th or lower for the Italian, the only option left on the table.
“All the pressure is on Bagnaia,” Crutchlow summed up. “Not on Fabio, he just has to go and try and win in Valencia. That's all he can do.”