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GP Week : Issue 196
MOTOGP >>> FEATUrE No-one would begrudge Crutchlow the money. Aside from his result, he’s got all sorts of other racing qualities – including a willingness to ignore pain and injury. Witness two epic comebacks at the British GP, plus the latter half of this season, with a severe swelling in his forearm along with a slab of road rash that refused to heal – the legacy of sliding into the kerb at Silverstone “and there was some sort of explosion inside. “A MotoGP rider is always riding injured,” he says, “because when do you have time to recover? You’re flying, travelling, training, racing two weeks later. You’re always riding injured until winter. Then you have two months off to recover. You have to be determined.” But the scale of the immediate task, of trying to get something out of the bike on which former GP World Champions have been lucky to get into the top five, is something to put into proportion, and measure against the small Italian company’s past success and future potential. “I expect it to be tough but I’m looking for ward to the challenge. I have an attitude that I like to prove people wrong,” he said. “Can be a bad way to look at motorcycle racing sometimes, but it’s the way that I am: my competitive nature. Same as this year I like to battle with the guys on the factory bikes. Proving people wrong.” His hopes are high for at least some help next year, though Dall’Igna expects major improvement might take longer. Says Crutchlow: “I believe that about halfway through next year there’ll be something on the table. They will not be changing the engine ... but the rest can be changed. I don’t think the engine is the problem anyway. The thing’s a rocket- ship. The problem is using the power, so some things need to change, but I don’t think it’s the engine.” The rider had found no surprises in his first tests, the day after Valencia. “I’m saying what the other riders are saying,” he said. His first outings on the bike left him singing a tune familiar from the mouths of those who went before. “There are some very positive points. The braking’s very good, very stable. The acceleration is good – the gearbox and engine are working very well.” Over three days, and after having his first fall after losing the front end, he ended up 12th in overall times, one place and some two tenths off new team-mate and Ducati old hand Dovizioso. Like his predecessors, Cal found the Ducati had a particular character, and it was difficult to try to alter it. The Desmosedici is notoriously unresponsive to even quite drastic setting changes. But the future of the thing is what matters. Likewise to Dall’Igna, who described his first days with Ducati as “like a new life – because always I have been with another brand;” and whose last remaining racing ambition is success in the premier class. He describes ex-Superbike winner Crutchlow as “very exciting, because he took a different way into MotoGP.” Crutchlow is going in with eyes wide open, and full of optimism. It was the same for Rossi, and Melandri, and others; but Ducati now has new owners (Audi) and from the start of this month a brand-new and highly successful racing engineer in charge. Let’s come back this time next year, and see how much the game has changed by then. 23 GPWEEK.com // 23 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: