Avintia “stupid” for giving Ponsson MotoGP debut - Crutchlow

Cal Crutchlow has hit out at the Avintia team for handing Christophe Ponsson his MotoGP debut at Misano, after the Frenchman languished several seconds off the pace in Friday practice.

Avintia “stupid” for giving Ponsson MotoGP debut - Crutchlow

Former World Superbike backmarker Ponsson, who currently races in the Spanish Superstock 1000 series, was chosen by Avintia to effectively stand in for the injured Tito Rabat for the San Marino Grand Prix, taking Xavier Simeon’s two-year-old Ducati bike.

Ponsson finished first practice outside the 107 percent cut-off, 7.4 seconds slower than pacesetter Andrea Dovizioso, but improved by almost two seconds in FP2 to put himself half a second inside the 107% mark.

A number of riders expressed concern about Ponsson’s lack of credentials on Thursday, although Crutchlow said he was willing to give the 22-year-old the benefit of the doubt.

But after sharing the track with Ponsson on Friday, Crutchlow admitted the speed differential between the newcomer and the rest of the MotoGP pack was “dangerous”.

“It’s great to give somebody an opportunity, but looking at how his day went, it’s quite dangerous for him to be on track with us,” said Crutchlow of Ponsson.

“I don’t blame the guy. If you get given the opportunity to ride the bike, you would do it. Why not? But the team is stupid.

“They are just making themselves look more like idiots than they already look.”

Marc Marquez echoed Crutchlow’s opinion that Ponsson himself is not to blame, but said MotoGP must take steps to ensure riders who lack experience cannot be allowed to disrupt a race weekend.

“It’s so difficult to ride a MotoGP bike for the first time in a GP [weekend], understand the tyres, understand the electronics,” said the world champion.

“Sure, he was very slow, but it’s normal. I was very slow also first time with MotoGP. It’s not his fault. But for sure we need to understand for the future.

“When more or less everybody has the same speed, you can [trust] in the rider in front, that he will do a normal line. But when he’s five, six seconds [slower] it becomes dangerous.”

Christophe Ponsson, Avintia Racing

Christophe Ponsson, Avintia Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / LAT Images

Jack Miller remarked he had a hot lap ruined when he encountered Ponsson on-track, costing him the chance of finishing the day inside the top 10.

“I did a very good lap right up until the last sector, I caught this wildcard who was 7s a lap slower than everyone else and destroyed my lap,” recalled the Pramac Ducati rider.

“Just bad luck, I know my ideal lap if I didn’t catch old mate was [1m32.7s], which would have put me through to Q2.

“I caught him from a long way back, 3s in the last sector, caught him right at the last corner, tried to pass him around the outside and got ridden into the grass.”

For his part, Ponsson said the difference between the GP16 Ducati and what he was used to was so big that it was “as if I start again riding on a bike”.

He added: “This afternoon I gained two seconds on this morning, we just tried to make me feel more comfortable on the bike. I feel a little bit better, the bike is very hard.

“I just need laps to understand more and more. I’m far from the laptime but everyone started one day. Today it’s for me.”

Additional reporting by Lena Buffa, Matteo Nugnes, Gerald Dirnbeck

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