Monster Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow showed promising pace during Saturday’s free practice sessions before an ‘unstable and shaking’ M1 put paid to his Silverstone qualifying hopes.
Despite looking at a back-of-the-grid start for tomorrow’s 20-lap BritishGP, the Englishman was pleased enough with his weekend so far, stating "I don't think it's going too bad actually,” before reflecting throughly on his second day on home soil.
“Well, good and not good - qualifying was just a disaster,” Crutchlow admitted.
“I don't feel good with the bike - the bike is very good, I just don't feel good with it at the moment. The bike's just so unstable for me at the moment, shaking like mad. I can't stop the bike shaking in the straight even. In the front straight is quite normal because you come out of the corner, but in the back two straights, it shouldn't be shaking the way it is so we need to really look into that.
“The problem I've been having is when it shakes I've no brakes, because it shakes the brake pads back. In qualifying, my ideal qualifying lap would have been a lot, lot better but I got the yellow flag and we had to abort the lap. I could have been close to the Q2, potentially. I don't think I would have got into the Q2 but I would have been close.
“But I'm riding okay, FP3 was good, FP4 was okay but we need to understand some things. Sure some of it's me riding but a lot of it's the setting and me feeling good on the bike. We know the bike's working well from Fabio, we know it's a great bike and a great team and we're working hard but I was disappointed to be on the back row, there's no doubt about that.
“There's no expectation on me but the expectation of myself is I know how to ride around here and I should have been faster than what I was. In the qualifying I went into turn two and turn three with absolutely zero brake and you brake a lot there. I had no brake at all, I just had to tip in, and that was my fastest lap.
“I just blew the whole lap because of the shaking of the bike but we're looking into it, Yamaha are working hard. I've gone back to more of my testing geometry, which is different to the other guys, and that already felt a little bit better, a little bit more comfortable for me but it hasn't stopped this unstableness of the bike, and we need to fix that.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s race, Crutchlow is realistic that it’s going to be a big ask at such a long track from so far back.
“Problem is, where I've qualified. If you qualify on the front two rows and you feel good and the bike's there, you're in with a shout of being right up there, because you never know how the race is going to go. You never know how much they're going to drop the lap time, how fast they're going to go at the start. You might get dropped at the start, but you might be there, and you might be the one at the end that's still going good.
“But where I'm starting, at the back of the grid, you're never going to get to the front, or anywhere near where you think you're going to, in MotoGP. Especially with the turn one, turn two and the first sector here, because there's no hard-braking, there's nowhere to pass, there's one line.
“It's not like Barcelona where you've got a start, a straight, and then you can out-brake five people. Here you don't even brake into the first corner off the grid. So it'd be difficult, from where I'm starting from but at the end of the day, my job is to get information, enjoy riding, enjoy being with the team and try and do a good job, which I'll do.
“We'll see what lap-times we can do tomorrow in the race. The problem also will be passing other riders and riders as you come to them they only get faster - the position they're in is normally the speed that they are, so they only get faster the further you go up.
“I don't know if we can fix this situation and the problem I have with the bike but overall it's been a good weekend. We've tried some different things, I've been in a relatively good position here and there and the lap-times I'm doing, again, is like what I was doing with the Honda, it's just that everybody is so fast. That's MotoGP, I've had some time off and everybody gets quicker every year!”
Silverstone presents another question, whether or not to use the start device. Crutchlow, much like fellow Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi, seems to be leaning against the decision.
"The holeshot device, I am in two minds because every practice start I've done this weekend, it's been without it - because I don't think here you can use it, honestly. I don't think you can use it from the grid.
“I have first hand experience of two things. Two years ago I saw Jack use it from the front row of the grid, and it didn't turn off until turn seven, so trying to go through the first sector, it was like riding a boat with the rear device. Now the next one is, I had in Austria, in the first Grand Prix, I basically broke the [front] device, because I engaged it, but I didn't press the switch to disengage. I rode two laps with the device on and I thought the bike was broken, I had no idea what was going on, but it was impossible this way. That was when I lost five-seconds in two laps.
“I'll let the others do what they want to do but I've been planning, in the moment, not using it. I've raced here in 2016/17 and I didn't brake for the first corner off the grid. So, it all depends on what goes on in front of you, whether they all check up and you have to brake, or if you're at the back, maybe you don't have to brake at all, so that's why I think it could be difficult.
“We'll see at two o'clock tomorrow what happened with everybody on the grid but every time I see them doing the practice tests, they're all doing it, they're all using that device. So, we'll see.”