First pics: Crutchlow makes Yamaha MotoGP debut at Qatar test

| | MotoGP
Picture: GeeBee Images

Britain’s Cal Crutchlow has made his debut as Yamaha’s new MotoGP test rider on the first day of shakedown testing in Qatar.

Speaking to MotoGP.com from the Losail International Circuit ahead of this afternoon’s proceedings, the Isle of Man resident was confident of his debut, and excited to be getting back to work.

“First of all it’s great to be back with Yamaha after so many years away. Obviously I started my MotoGP career with Yamaha so it’s nice to do a full circle and come back.

“Doing the testing for them is the perfect role for me, and hopefully the perfect role for them as well, where we can give them as much information as possible, hopefully be at a good speed and be able to work well with them.

“I have no preconceived ideas. I just have to get on and do my job which is to assess parts, assess the bike, give my feedback compared to what I’ve ridden currently as well - the feeling, the feeling with the tyres, the bike. Essentially try and get it around the track as fast as what I can get it around.”

When questioned on feeling any pressure to perform, especially considering the other Yamaha riders have described him as ‘the final piece of the puzzle’, a calm Crutchlow explained: “I think, especially for the first three days, we have to take it easy and see where we’re at.

“I’m sharing the bike with another two riders as well, so the settings of the bike is not going to be the preferred setting. We have to share that, the position, the ergonomics of the bike and also the settings of the springs, the forks, the electronics, so that’s not going to be easy to do considering every rider has their own style, their own position on the bike.

“Once I feel comfortable and more up to speed, we will start to evaluate things and try and give the best feedback for the other riders, because essentially that’s why we’re here, to try and get the other riders to be able to win all the races.”

Despite the building anticipation ahead of the 2021’s only official pre-season test getting underway, conditions in Doha were far from ideal, with strong winds and encroaching sand creating numerous problems. Evaluating the situation just one hour before the track went green, the Brit was hesitant about how quickly he would be hitting the asphalt.

“At the moment, [conditions are] not favourable, because to be out on track as of now, I don’t think it’s possible to go out at the moment, just because of the wind.

“Yes, at the end of the day you’re not racing, you’re not with all the other bikes, you can still potentially ride the bike but assessing things might be very, very difficult. Also with the speeds of the Qatar straight, when you come out of the last pit garage and you get the wind from the side, we get blown across the track a lot, so we’ll have to take care of that.

“Let’s see how it goes today, let’s see if we can finally get on track and be able to ride, it might be not a bad day for me to just ride around and learn the Yamaha as well.”

After only a handful of laps, the former HRC man is only a second off the pace set by Honda’s Stefan Bradl.

Picture: GeeBee Images
Picture: GeeBee Images