As always in small groups, Cal Crutchlow gives some for their time to those who come to settle down with him to talk about the race (a little) and to play in the semi-off (not bad). The LCR Honda rider’s account of his fine qualifying at the fourth position, his last as a permanent MotoGP rider, will have been, to say the least, representative of what a moment spent with him in recent years.
The Briton never misses good words and jokes during his interviews, while being brutally honest but also able to lose his concentration on the subject raised, to deviate towards another and comment on the discipline and its protagonists at all times – de-champs like an outside observer. Not shying away from his responsibility for missing the first row of the starting grid for this Sunday’s race, the Briton nevertheless has something to be satisfied with starting from fourth position after a good last qualifications.
Cal, you were really happy with your round of Q1, so did you say to yourself for Q2, “fuck it, let’s tackle and see what happens?”
Yes ! But I made a big mistake on my Q1 lap, actually, which really pissed me off. I made a front block in turn 13 when I was already accelerating! I found myself really let go: I thought I was going to get off the track and despite that I did a really good last sector so what I thought was that for Q2, if I did a good work in the first three sectors, so I knew I could do well in sector 4.
But the problem is that my sector 4 was not as good concluding: I took a few tenths but I did not brake so early and I lost 0”2. So I lost my first row but anyway I’m happy and I was on the wire [hier]. That’s what I love to do and it was my last qualifying session.
Did you have a plan to work hand in hand with your buddy Jack [Miller], who did you end up with?
As you know, Jack and I have always been friends. It wasn’t a plan but I knew Jack would and so I wanted to position myself in a decent way but the problem is this idiot missed his turn one and he took me with him [rires] ! So me, I continued my turn then he fucked me again [sic] in the last lap and I think I’ll try to tell him about it [rires]. But no, there was no plan and Jack knows I’m the oldest in college and he respects me because with old age it’s not that easy!
I’m not great on the exit lap and he knows it, but he pushed like crazy trying to catch up with Morbidelli or whatever and I was like, “Ah damn, don’t push that hard in the exit turn! ” but I still managed to do a good lap and here I am in fourth position on the grid.
What do you expect from your last race starting from the second row?
I’ve no idea. I have no idea what to expect during the race: it’s not that everyone is on a different tire strategy [de moi], but I think I’m on to something different because I didn’t really like the tire that everyone seems to be using, both front and rear… So we’ll see if I can make it happen with mine and if I can get a good position, but I have the impression that if I run the whole race alone I will be in a better situation than if I find myself right behind someone or chasing because we have rather unorthodox trajectories!
Lucio [Cecchinello, son directeur d’équipe] was very excited on the pitwall after the round of Q1 [qui a qualifié Crutchlow pour la Q2]. How did you feel seeing him so excited afterwards?
I had done Aragon before and found myself on the front line there and when I feel like I can push I can do it well. It was great to see the guys, especially after Q2. I can only blame myself for not getting the first row due to my mistake, but anyway I’m super happy with this position.
This year, we haven’t raced on certain tracks like at Silverstone or Assen, two tracks that you like a lot. Do you find it a shame not to have been able to go through it again on a MotoGP in race conditions before leaving?
On some yes, and on others no! As you know, I don’t really like traveling far so it depends a little bit on the distance from the house! But I’m sure that by mid-season next year I’ll be ready again to travel a little bit and hit the circuits… But if I had to pick one, yes I would miss Assen because I reminds me of being in a battle in 2017 or 2018 when there were about 150 overtakes in the race and that was awesome! It’s always a great race there and I got a great podium also in 2013, I was in a good period of my career, so it’s true that Assen is a circuit that I will miss a lot. and that if I had to pick one, it would be this one.
It was your last quick lap in qualifying where you gave everything; have you thought about it? You always put your heart in driving: will you miss that adrenaline of the fast lap?
No, because I haven’t been very good overall at this exercise for the past two years [rires] ! But it’s true that it was hot to be able to push and I was getting worse and worse with my emotions, which is probably normal. Yeah, that was my last qualifying session as a titular driver so it was emotional when I left the pit lane with Jack and that sort of thing… and then then I gave it my all in the lap. And if we talk about lap time, well I’m the fourth [plus rapide] in the world at the moment so it’s quite a nice feeling before you go! [rires]
Will your night be different?
No it will be fine, I’ll sleep well! But I don’t know if I’ll get up [rires] ! Having said that, I would be happy to spend a night like the one after the race in Valencia where things got a bit out of hand with Jack, Taka [Nakagami], Alex [Márquez]. I can well imagine another night like this: there, it is certain that I would still be stuck in bed [rires] !
As I know you like stories, the funniest thing about that night is that at quarter to four in the morning, we entered Joan’s motor home. [Mir, victorieux et sacré champion ce week-end là, ndlr]. It was half open and we managed to go through the door and get back in because obviously he had won the race and we thought he was in there. But he wasn’t there, so we tried to find his trophy, just to take some pictures with it! But he had taken it with him [rires]. It was a good night in Valencia and it would be nice to have another like this before leaving but and I’m leaving early tomorrow …
This Sunday is your last race and charismatic “old” riders like you or Dovizioso are leaving. Do you think these young riders can represent the future of MotoGP in terms of charisma?
You have to ask them if they have charisma or not [rires] ! In the end, I run against guys who are fifteen years younger than me and it is always natural for things to change at some point. And if you look at our driving, at Dovi and I, we still have a little bit the same as the ones we had five or six years ago and it’s hard to change that or do the right thing. And our body is not the same as theirs either!
I think the guys we have now with Quartararo, Rins, Joan, who won the championship, and these boys who are going up, they will continue to be very fast. But as I said in the press conference, I pass the witness on to Jack to be honest and always tell the truth I’m sure he will continue to do so. I can’t wait to sit down and watch this!
Have you planned something to greet the team tomorrow after the race?
No ! My team has known for a while that I am leaving and they have brought me so much success in my journey with Honda; they worked very hard for me – as I did for them -. It’s not like I’m never going to see them again: I’ll see them in the paddock, during the tests, but it’s true that it’s sad to leave such a great team. Life goes on and I will miss working with the guys, but they are going to have another new driver next year who I think they are looking forward to working with too…