Cal Crutchlow enjoyed his best day on the Monster Energy Yamaha M1 at MotorLand Aragon on Friday, completing free practice third in the combined times.
Having previously said he wasn’t looking for position or lap-time during his, potentially, final outing on the M1, the Brit was visibly pleased at the end of FP2 after posting a 1’47.897 effort.
“Realistically I could be 20th in the morning. That’s the reality,” Crutchlow said, playing it down as ever. “So as I said, we’re not bothered about position. We’re not looking for that.
“It was nice to do a lap because on the Yamaha I’ve never done a fast lap in my life,” he admitted. “I’ve done good testing, in Jerez I had a fantastic pace, but I couldn’t go fast at all - as in over one lap. So that was why I was happy with the lap, because I was able to push and that was it.
“In the end, yes I feel better on the bike, but it’s just time on the bike, it’s as simple as that. Silverstone was not great. I was happy with Silverstone, we did our job, but it was not easy and it was just difficult to jump from the ‘19 bike to the ‘21 bike again, not riding in so long - it’s just about getting used to it again.
“In Silverstone, I was pissing about with the handlebars, with the brake, because they’re completely different sizes to an extent, of where you sit, and I didn’t feel comfortable. Simple as that. So now I feel a little bit more comfortable. I’m able to start pushing a bit more. My pace was okay. In the free practice two I didn’t really like the hard rear tyre but I had to continue with it because we had to test something.
“It was a good session because we’re testing something that the guys have not been testing this year and that’s my job. It works perfectly in the garage at the moment, it works perfect because I can do what I want. We can do what we want because it makes no difference and we’re hoping to put Fabio in a better position later on in the year.
“Now he’s got no time to test. He’s got a championship to concentrate on, he needs to concentrate on going fast and getting good results, where, for me it doesn’t matter. Where I finished today, in that respect is irrelevant. Why I was happy was because I put a fast lap and I’ve never done it on the Yamaha at all. It’s not that I don’t have the speed, it’s that I didn’t feel comfortable, or another thing is I wasn’t willing to, because I didn’t need to. So it was nice.
“This morning was also not great. I used the soft front tyre this morning and I jacked it with about five or six minutes to go because it was done and there was no point to put a new tyre in, so I didn’t go out the last bit. I only went up for a practice start at the end.
“I used the medium rear and the medium rear, I think, was quite good, but the problem was the track was that green - there was no rubber on the ground, it was not good - so, then we don’t understand that tyre now, in the moment, because it was a pointless session but you’re getting up to speed.
“I used the hard rear in the afternoon, and I didn’t feel great with that. The hard rear tyre with the Yamaha doesn’t really suit my style, but on the other hand, it could be a potential race tyre, as could the medium, as could the soft. That’s when you’re always in the shit, because when there’s three potential race tyres, everybody will run something different. I’m not saying it’s not a fair fight then, because you got to do the tricks of the trade and pick your own choice, the best, but I quite like it when everyone’s on the same tyre, because then you sort of understand the level, the level of the bike, etc.
“The track condition being hotter was a lot better, because you just understood it. When I came here in the test earlier in the year, honestly, I was riding around doing 50’s and Dani exactly the same. We couldn’t even get within three-seconds of qualifying because there was a car track day the day before and the rubber that was laid down was not matching the Michelin rubber. It was freezing cold, and we couldn’t do anything, it was a waste of time to be here. I think I did 40 laps on the day and that was it. The next day it rained and it was like an ice skating rink and I did one run and pulled off.
“Is a lot better track when it’s warm. Yes, you have a lot of sliding feeling, a lot of floating, a lot of corner entry problems, a lot of spinning on the exit of the corner but that feels more natural around Aragon. That’s why the Honda over the years - Marc’s been very good here, he’s fantastic here - but I mean the Honda in general. We saw last year, we saw when I rode it as well, you slide the bike a lot to turn and that’s a normal thing with a Honda so then it gets on with the character of the circuit very well. So yeah, the conditions being warmer is a lot better.
“The lap-time that I did is not an amazing lap-time, I went way faster in the qualifying last year, when I qualified on the front row, but the reality is, I’ve been very, very poor over one lap, and that’s just because I’m not comfortable to push and not comfortable with the bike to do one lap. So I was obviously pleased with that as I said, for that reason.
“You have to go against the people that you’re against and today I was third so of course I’m going to be pleased with that, but I was pleased with the way we’ve worked. Also in Silverstone I was very pleased with the way we worked but I had a bad feeling with the bike in Silverstone. The bike was shaking a lot and I didn’t feel comfortable and I also didn’t feel comfortable in my position on the bike. So today I already felt immediately that I was in a better feeling with me, comfort-wise on the bike. To be honest we never really changed anything, it’s just that I got used to it more, sometimes you need to go away, reset and come back and that was it.
“The bike was a little bit unstable today but as I said I was pleased with the way we worked in the garage and as I said we tested something that the others have not used this year and that’s good, it’s good for information, good for testing plan as well because we can introduce it into the testing plan. Our job now is to make Fabio faster. Not that he needs to be any faster but is in to make him be up there, week-in, week-out, which he is anyway. I’m not saying that what I’m doing is making any difference but the testing that I can do at the races, maybe in the test that he does after Misano or later in the year, at a race, he can then use that or he can use it tomorrow, I don’t know, but we’re working in a good way in that sense.”