INDIANAPOLIS, IN, AUG. 15 – Cal Crutchlow faced the press today for the first time since inking a two-year contract with Ducati during the summer break, the current Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider talking freely about his new deal during today’s pre-Red Bull Indy Grand Prix press conference at the famous speedway.
Crutchlow stayed at his U.S. training base in Carlsbad, California, during the summer break and was there when the news of his move to Ducati was made public.
“After Laguna we decided we're going to stay in America and take a break here,” Crutchlow said. “So, but yeah, it wasn't too much of a break. We had a busy first week. Yeah, we obviously released I'll be riding for Ducati next year. But really pleased and nice to finally get that deal done for next year and can settle for the rest of the year. So we'll see how it goes.”
Crutchlow said the decision to make the move wasn’t an easy one. But that was mainly due to his feelings for his current team.
“Yeah, there's pros and cons to everything,” he said. “I think the most difficult thing was making the phone call to Hervé [Poncheral, the Tech 3 team owner]. It was quite an emotional phone call for both of us and a difficult situation to be in. My team has been fantastic, and we still have the rest of the year to try and make the best job we can with them. So it was a difficult choice to make because of that decision. But, no, I'm pleased to have secured my future, definitely.”
Crutchlow, who is fifth in the championship heading into Sunday’s round here, has nine races left with his Yamaha team.
“Obviously mine [job] will be to do the best job I can for Tech 3,” the Brit said. “I took my first podium in MotoGP with them, and they stood by me after a first tough year. I think if there's anything we can do for the rest of the year, it will be to try and take a win. I don't know where it will be, but I'll definitely be trying. I've got nothing to lose. It doesn't matter where I am in the championship, particularly. We're doing a good job there, and if we can continue in the way we have, four podiums early in the season, I think if we can start the second half of the year strong there's no reason why we can't be there at the end of the year, as well.”
Most believe Crutchlow’s decision to move to the Italian team was a financial one. Naturally, that question came up today at Indy.
“Did someone set that question up?” Crutchlow said to laugther in the press conference. “No. It was difficult decision to make because I didn't want to leave my team. That's what I said. It was wasn't a difficult decision to make to change a manufacturer. It was a difficult decision to leave Tech 3 because of how close I am with the team. And as a lot of people here know, my relationship with Hervé and all my guys is fantastic. So, yeah, the tough decision was that, nothing else.”
When asked to elaborate on why he chose Ducati, Crutchlow went with humor.
“I like the color,” he said, before getting serious. “I don't know what, you know. My decision was made quite clear in my mind. I sat down with, you know, with the team of guys around me. I spoke personally, you know, to my team owner as well on the whole decision. I didn't think what I was being offered somewhere else was what I wanted and I wanted - this is a new challenge for me, it's something different. We've been in three years in MotoGP now, with Yamaha and also World Supersport and World Superbike. But sometimes it's time for a change. The deal that was put on the table in front of me I was happy with, and there's no reason why I shouldn't change. I think it's a new motivation for me, as well. And obviously it might be a little bit different position-wise as such, you know, straightaway anyway. But my motivation is to try to bring the bike to the front definitely.”
Crutchlow said it’s way too early to predict what will happen when he does get on the Ducati.
“I don't know,” he said. “It's a long time still from now until when I'll ride the bike or even race the bike. So a lot can change. As I said, you know, my main focus at the minute is to carry on for Tech 3 and do my best job I can there, definitely. If we can go out this year very strong, then hopefully I can take that momentum into next year. But yeah, it seems difficult for Andrea [Dovizioso] now. I only know from Andrea. He's a strong rider in the championship. He's a good class of rider. He's rode for three different bikes, and it seems this one is the most difficult for him at the moment. But as I said, things can change, and hopefully it will change before I get there.
But worry? Nah. Not Crutchlow.
“No, I'm not worried. At the end of the day, it's a motorcycle that people have done very well on in the past and not just one rider. Yeah, as I said, hopefully things will change a little, but I will give 100 percent. I believe my 100 percent will be good enough. If I didn't think my 100 percent was good enough, I wouldn't be racing a motorcycle. So I think, you know, I'll try my best, and that's all I can do.
Then the question was posted to Valentino Rossi, who struggled mightly in his two yars with Ducsati. What advice could he give Crutchlow?
“You know, I think that Cal want very much a factory bike, no?” Rossi said. “And maybe think that Yamaha doesn't give enough importance to his work and for sure you go with Ducati, and Ducati a lot of people will work for him. Like he said, it's a great challenge for him because like Dovi have some problem, and I have some problem to bring the Ducati to the top.
“But Cal have a different riding style and is a different rider like is very strong. So why not? Advice, for sure, at the beginning will be hard because the Ducati is more difficult to bring at the limit compared to the M1. But anyway, I think that in the factory, in Ducati, they have to work a lot. I think that they know; they know that they have to raise the level of the bike and will be interesting to see what's happen, yeah.”
Crutchlow has been watching the Ducati, of course. He was asked what he believes are its strong points and what needs to be improved.
“I think a lot to be improved and the strong point, it's fast. But the rest of it I don't know. You know, it's too difficult for me to turn around and make a comment on that when I haven't ridden it. I don't know if the bike they have at the minute maybe completely suits my style, maybe things need to change, maybe it just doesn't suit some of the guys. I don't know, you know. I can't really comment on that situation because I don't ride the bike. So I will never make a comment on the way the guys have ridden it or are riding it now because, you know, it's not for me to say. Obviously, Valentino has rode it and Andrea and Nicky [Hayden], and I can't comment on that at all. All you can see is what you see on track, but you're not the guy riding it.
So how do I know if I jump on it I might not even have to make a change at all? But, yeah, it's clear, it needs to improve. But it's not my job to do that. My job and motivation is to ride it 100 percent of my ability.