Crutchlow: New Honda is ‘maybe worse’ at turning

Cal Crutchlow says the 2020-spec Honda MotoGP bike is “maybe even a little worse than last year” at turning after the second day of pre-season testing in Malaysia.

LCR rider Crutchlow was one of the most vocal critics of last year’s RC213V’s lack of cornering ability, having been the only Honda rider other than world champion Marc Marquez to score a podium finish in 2019.

The Englishman has had a busy test schedule, with three bikes at his disposal for the three-day outing at Sepang that began on Friday.

After finishing Saturday 12th-fastest, Crutchlow admitted HRC has failed to improve the turning of the bike thus far.

When asked if he could see any light at the end of the tunnel with the issue, he replied: At the moment no. We have to keep trying to find something.

“We’re making modifications to the bike throughout the day, throughout the night. We made more modifications last night to improve it, which was a good job by my team and by Honda because every night they’ve been here till midnight, 2am trying to build stuff that might work.

“So, for the moment, my front-end feeling is maybe even a little worse than last year, which is not so positive. But there are positive areas of the bike. The engine seems better than last year, which is always good.”

Elaborating on the Honda’s turning issue, Crutchlow added: “At the moment we are still not making corner the way we need to make the corner to be competitive.

“We can’t flow through the corners, we make the corner way too much like a ‘V’, which was always the Honda style but at the moment and with the Michelin tyres you can’t do that.

“You have to make more corner speed and this bike doesn’t allow us to do that. We need to improve that turning, that front end feeling to be able to do that.”

Marquez also admitted the bike felt similar to last year, adding that the current focus of Honda is its engine as the freeze on development takes force after the Qatar test later this month.

“The character of the bike is very similar to last year, it’s just an evolution,” he said.

“Now we are trying to work to understand first of all the tyres, because they change a little bit, then also on the engine side… we are concentrated more on the engine side because we know that in one month in Qatar, we can’t change anything.”

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Marquez’s day ended when he suffered a crash during an in-lap at Turn 3, having completed 47 laps up to that point – an improvement on Friday’s tally of 37. 

“Unfortunately when I was going to the box, I had already finished the day, I was on the dirty place [on the track], I don’t know why, maybe because I was tired or something,” he said.

“Of course if you check the corner you say, ‘woah, it’s a fast corner’ but I was [going] slow. So it was not a big crash. I need to be 200 percent concentrated because in that physical condition you need to be even more concentrated to avoid all these things.”

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