Cal Crutchlow fought hard to get into podium position, but couldn’t advance past sixth-place by the finish at Mugello.
Cal Crutchlow says he must improve his performance in the opening laps in MotoGP after he returned to the top six in Mugello. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider bemoaned his pace on a full fuel load and also pledged to improve his starts after another poor launch off the line at the start of the 23-lap clash.
Crutchlow fought his way back into sixth and was only 1.4 seconds off teammate Andrea Dovizioso in third at the checkered flag, but his hopes of breaking his premier class podium duck unraveled in the early stages. He was only ninth at the end of the first lap and at the halfway stage of the race he was over six seconds behind the battle involving Dovizioso and Stefan Bradl for third.
Crutchlow latched onto the back of Valentino Rossi’s factory Ducati for the second half of the race but couldn’t force the Italian legend into an error.
The former World Supersport champion later said: “My main concern now is to be pole at every race because my starts are that s**t I might as well start at the back of the grid. It was a disaster start but our main problem is the bike on the full fuel load. I’m really struggling with that. When we are braking we can’t stop. In practice and qualifying we can but it seems when I am with people I can’t do it. The only place I finished really close to the front is Jerez and if you look at that race the first six laps when the fuel was going down we were cruising round through some damp patches. But when these guys push at the start I just run wide everywhere. Ben (Spies) looks the same and so does Valentino because as the race went on we got faster.”
Crutchlow was happy to return to the top six for the seventh time in 2012 after he passed Nicky Hayden’s factory Ducati at the final corner and he paid tribute to Rossi after the nine-time world champion kept him at bay from the third lap.
Crutchlow added: “It was an amazing race by Valentino to keep pushing like that and staying so consistent. He lifted me up in one corner. I ran a bit wide and thought I might tip in but if I had tipped then it would have been like (Marc) Marquez and (Pol) Espargaro in Catalunya and both of us would have crashed and both of us would have blamed each other. He rode well to pull that time back. I did a job on Nicky at the end, which we needed to do. I think I was eight seconds back after four laps so to come back to that I’m really happy. I did five laps in the race last year and now I’ve finished sixth and only one second off the podium. How Rossi rode just shows the skill he has and I can tell you he hasn’t lost it. His bike was very fast but I couldn’t even slipstream it. I was faster in the last sector and could have passed him but he would have passed me back down the straight. We’d have just ended up taking time out of each other and Valentino is never going to give in. I didn’t feel I had enough speed to break away from him but I was happy enough. I had planned to pass him at the last corner on the last couple of laps but with what happened with Nicky and Bradl completely screwed it up. He went by Nicky and I didn’t but I passed Nicky at the last corner where I was so strong all weekend. People might think I am coming away from here disappointed but at the end of the day I still finished a second off the podium and that is really close.”
Crutchlow Waiting on Ducati Contract
Crutchlow admitted he was unlikely to sign a two-year deal to join Ducati’s factory MotoGP squad in 2013 during the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello. The British rider was expected to agree a deal to leave the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad at the end of 2012 in Mugello. That was when Ducati wanted Crutchlow to confirm whether he will accept their offer to ride a factory Desmosedici in 2013 and ’14.
But Crutchlow confirmed prior to the Mugello racing that he had still not received a written contract to look at with his management. Audi’s on-going takeover of Ducati was rumored to be one reason why the Bologna factory has not yet sent a formal proposal, despite the former World Supersport champion suggesting terms were agreed some time again.
Crutchlow wouldn’t elaborate on the reasons for the delay but he said: “Talks are still on-going and that’s it. It is not a hold up from our side so read into that what you want. As far as I am concerned we can’t do anything different and we are waiting. It is a situation that I don’t print my own contract. They print it and then send it so obviously nothing has been sent. We have to wait and I am still talking to them but we are waiting for them. It is their decision. Everything is discussed but at the minute we don’t have any paperwork. I don’t have a contract so I can’t do anything. Everything else was done quite some time ago but at the moment there is a bit of a hold up.”
Crutchlow said he will hold further talks with senior Yamaha management in Mugello about his future but his hopes of securing a factory YZR-M1 next to Jorge Lorenzo appear slim at best. Yamaha is understood to be close to signing a new deal with Texan Ben Spies.
Poncharal Admits Ducati Deal Hard to Refuse
Crutchlow’s current Tech 3 Yamaha boss, Herve Poncharal, believes the British rider can’t knock back the opportunity to join Ducati’s factory squad in 2013. With the chance of a factory Yamaha ride not materializing, Crutchlow will have to remain in the satellite Tech 3 squad on the same financial terms if he rejects the aforementioned two-year offer from Ducati.
Poncharal said: “Ducati’s priority is clearly to sign Cal. I have not lost him yet but I would be really sad because this year he has been fantastic. And I know how much he can still improve. I can’t see how he can’t accept the offer he has from Ducati. I am worried and sad but if he can make good money and have a full factory behind him, then I understand why he would go. Does he stay with Tech 3 knowing he will never have the factory spec bike and the money is nothing special? Or do you go to a full factory team and earn good money? He doesn’t want the money to travel first class around the world or have a flash car but he wants to be comfortable. As a factory rider he could sell his personal deals and leathers and helmet deals for more. And as a satellite rider at Yamaha he is going to be between third and sixth every week and that is not easy. If he goes to Ducati then worst case scenario he will finish fifth to eighth.”
Poncharal has made a verbal offer of a two-year deal to Crutchlow and added: “I can make him an offer and it is based on this year’s contract and they have told me no way.”