Crutchlow: “Will I be racing this year? If you look at last year, yes…”| Christina Bulpett | MotoGP
Cal Crutchlow made his debut as a Yamaha test rider this weekend after a decade of racing in MotoGP, so how does the Brit feel now the dust has settled on his competitive career?
“I made the decision to stop, to have more time at home, more time with the family. I think I had 10 good years racing in MotoGP which I enjoyed thoroughly and I think it was the right time to stop, so for the positive I think that was the right thing to do.
“Obviously it’s different, it’s always going to be different, stopping and not having a goal as such - every year or every winter or something, you’re preparing for the first race, for the test etc. but when you’re preparing for the test you’re preparing as a racer. You’re worried about people’s lap times, you’re worried about who’s fastest, then you have the thought of the next race, so that stress has gone.
“I don’t have to worry about that but the new stress is that I want to perform to the best of my capabilities, for Yamaha, to try to make the bike better for them, to hopefully win a world title again.
“First of all, I think the first test is going to be more difficult. Just simply because I’ve ridden a different motorcycle for the last seven years! My plan is to be on the pace and be able to give them the information that is key and valuable enough to make a step, or not make a step - evaluate parts, evaluate things at different tracks - but this first three days I’m especially not expecting too much.
I have to share the bike with another two riders, two Japanese riders and we have to keep the same ergonomic position on the bike, which is very difficult. I want to be able to do as much work as I can for Yamaha in these six days that we have here in total in Qatar.”
Describing what his ideal outcome would be from his new position, the 35-year-old explained:
“I think, that the riders be happy. The riders that I’m working for, be happy with the job I’m doing. That’s always the key.
“If you’re making improvements, or also not making improvements then you can give that feedback. I think having the relationship with Yamaha directly and also the riders and teams directly, is a good thing because there’s no point to test a motorcycle and never speak to them for the rest of the year.
“So I think the key is to be close to them, to be able to work with them on what might work and what might not work. The experience I think, is key to being able to give Yamaha some more success as well.”
And does he see himself being back on the grid in a competitive manner anytime soon, with the promise of a wildcard or two?
“It’s not on my agenda but we’ll speak to Yamaha, see how it goes. I’m also the replacement rider, if Yamaha asks, on a race weekend. Will I be racing this year? I have no idea, but if you look at last year, yes I would be racing!
“I have to, first of all as I said, feel comfortable with the bike, get up to speed and do my job, and my job is to test things, parts, feelings with bikes etc. for Yamaha over these days and we’ll see where it goes from there.”