Cal Crutchlow looks to his fourth, and potentially final, race of 2021 at Motorland Aragón this weekend as he rejoins Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP for round 13.
Having left Silverstone with a positive feeling, despite a disappointing qualifying which left him firmly at the back of the grid, Crutchlow is hoping for a faster weekend as he builds on his test work with the Japanese firm. With the set-up of his YZR-M1 now adjusted to his specifications, he anticipates finding out how well it will work at the undulating Aragon layout - a circuit he has enjoyed in the past.
And rightly so, the Briton has had his fair share of success in Alcañiz. With eleven premier class appearances under his belt, Crutchlow has only finished outside the top-10 on three occasions. His career highlight on Teruel soil coming in the form of a third place podium visit, in 2014.
“I enjoyed the GP at Silverstone,” Crutchlow affirmed ahead of the Spanish visit. “Overall, I felt like we did a good job, and I look forward to getting more laps in aboard the Factory YZR-M1, this time in Aragon. It‘s not an easy track, but it‘s one I‘m usually competitive at, so it will be nice to ride there and continue to add to the work we‘ve done so far.
“[After three races] I feel okay, physically I feel not too bad. I’m still able to train very well on my bicycle, just aches and pains which is normal,” he joked from the paddock on Thursday. “Plus I’m not riding constantly. As you know, with me I used to train on my bicycle a lot in the winter, and I used to never ride a motorcycle. I’d go to the first test, it was a big shock but then I used to continue to ride and I was normally physically fine throughout the whole season, but with not riding, it’s hard work!
“It’s hard to just go in on a race weekend against kids that you’re racing against and they’re only getting younger and they’re only getting faster. The level and the people here seem to be getting younger, being able to be fresher, faster. I’m getting back into it. I’m enjoying it, which is good. I’m enjoying riding the bike which is why I said I would do it, because I enjoy to ride. Do I enjoy to race anymore? Probably not like I used to enjoy to race, but it was a good opportunity to ride the motorcycle.
“Hopefully it’ll be better than Silverstone,” he continued, looking ahead to the Aragón weekend. “I think Silverstone, as I said after, I think we did a very good job, problem was they were just faster. A lot of people can’t accept that, I can accept that, I could also accept that in my career. So now of course I can accept it. Lap-times wise, as I said, a couple of years ago they were the lap-times we were doing near the front of the race. They were just going very, very well.
“My expectation for this weekend has to be, to be better than the last one. A circuit I like, a circuit that’s maybe not suited to the Yamaha as much - last year they really struggled, apart from Franco but Franco’s package is different, and it suited that bike as such. Let’s see, you know I’m optimistic. I think that we can do our job, which is to continue to understand things about the bike that Fabio doesn’t have to think about, because he’s racing. He has to think about winning the race or doing the best job he can, whereas I don’t.
“It is a nice situation, actually. Where I’m sort of, not testing, because I’m not particularly testing, I’m trying things that maybe they don’t try, but it’s not like a test where you can do 80 laps a day. Overall it’s going well so the expectation is to go faster than the last race. Position doesn’t matter to me, it doesn’t really matter to the team as long as we understand some things then hopefully that will be good.”
With this weekend scheduled to be his last competitive race, Crutchlow’s attention is already turning back to his test programme, and the upcoming opportunities to run the 2022 M1. Silvano Galbusera’s services have been reallocated into the factory team for the remainder of this season, so where does that leave the Brit?
“The situation is, Silvano will not be my crew chief in the test team now but when I will test, if he can attend the test, he will attend the test - so when it doesn’t clash because a couple of them clash, that is the problem now. So he will continue to do his job here, but from my understanding he will go back to the test role after, for next season.
“I won’t test in Misano [after the next race] no, because it wasn’t in our plan. I’m testing here in Aragon soon, very soon, and we’ll probably be with the new bike. That was why our focus is that we have to continue to test, because if I continue to race for the rest of the year, then who’s going to test the bike? Because it’s impossible to do both.
“I retired so I could spend more time at home and be retired, not race and test, so that was the plan, that was what I wanted to do and that’s why I will not be racing for the rest of the year - let me add ‘at this moment’.
“I look forward to the test because that’s my job. I’m employed to try and make the new bike better, or the bike that they have, better. So, I won’t be at the Misano test for that reason. I don’t know what they would test in Misano, well I do but I’m not telling you, and then I will take the bike from then on. I have three or four tests before the end of the season. Well, four but two of them are combined together, so I might need a day off in between.
“My crew chief will be the Japanese test team, the guys already worked together with Silvano, the Japanese, and they will also work together with me anyway, when I’m at the test. Silvano is the crew chief, yes, organising everything, but they will just take over from that because at the end of the day we need to do the miles and the kilometres on the 22 bike.”