Cal Crutchlow on Stoner and Lorenzoby Mat Oxley on 29th February 2012
British MotoGP rider Cal Crutchlow spent last season learning how to ride a MotoGP bike and being awestruck by MotoGP’s greatest talents. Here’s what he thinks of Stoner, Lorenzo and company.
Crutchlow (below) is a good addition to the MotoGP pack – he’s fast and he’s brave and he tells it like it is, he doesn’t do PR spew. Last year the Midlander made a promising entry into the elite class, lost his way halfway through the season, before ending the year with a flourish. He reckons the new 1000s – which replace the revvy, unloved 800s – will better suit his riding style, but there are plenty of riders saying that.
World Supersport champion in 2009 and a World Superbike race winner in 2010, Crutchlow joined a higher class of talent when he came to MotoGP. During 2011 he enjoyed watching the antics of a few men who can do things with motorcycles that are way beyond most mortals.
No great surprise that the two riders he rates the highest are reigning MotoGP champion Casey Stoner and 2010 champ Jorge Lorenzo.
“Since I came to MotoGP Casey is by far the out-and-out fastest guy,” says Crutchlow, soon to start his second year with the French Tech 3 Yamaha team. “Now that he can put a whole season together no one is close to him, simple as that. How he rides a bike is special – he’s able to do things most of us can’t even contemplate doing.”
Crutchlow knows a lot more about Lorenzo’s riding talent because he can minutely compare his riding technique against the Spaniard’s by overlaying their data from Yamaha. He believes Lorenzo’s secret is his braking technique, which allows him to run such devastating corner speed.
“Lorenzo is a corner-speed animal,” Crutchlow adds. “One of the few places you can gain from the other guys in MotoGP is in your deceleration speed. It looks like Lorenzo’s big thing is how quick he gets the bike stopped so he can release the brake sooner than anyone else. He gets it stopped in the first 100 metres of braking instead of the last 100 metres.”
That’s what allows Lorenzo to get the bike nice and settled so he can sweep through the corner faster than anyone and get on the throttle nice and early.
“How he brakes, where he brakes, he’s just so smooth that none of the Yamaha guys can match him lap after lap, no way. It’s incredible what he does and he’s just so natural. I ask him about stuff and he doesn’t even know he’s doing it, which is quite shocking! He does 10 perfect laps in a row without even thinking about it.”
Crutchlow reckons the only place that Lorenzo’s factory Yamaha team-mate Ben Spies beats him is on the brakes.
“Me, Dovizioso [Crutchlow’s new team-mate at Tech 3] and Ben are very similar on corner speed and corner exit. But Ben is unbelievably late on the brakes – you cannot even imagine how late he brakes. Me, Lorenzo and Dovi are pretty much the same but sometimes Ben is 19 metres later. You try to force yourself to do the same but you can’t.”
Apart from braking later, what else does Crutchlow (above) need to do to get to the front? “It’s about having a Grand Prix style, simple as that. Lorenzo and Stoner got it from riding 125s and 250s. I’m getting there – every time I ride the bike we look at the data and I seem to be closer and closer to what they are doing mid-corner.”
In theory, this could be a good year for Crutchlow as his Superbike-derived technique better suits the 1000s and his way of riding gradually morphs towards a MotoGP style.