Teleconference with Cal Crutchlow Moderator: Good morning, everybody. I'm John Gardner, the media manager for Miller Motorsports Park, and we're back for another teleconference with the riders in the HANNspree Superbike World Championship....
Teleconference with Cal Crutchlow
Moderator: Good morning, everybody. I'm John Gardner, the media manager for Miller Motorsports Park, and we're back for another teleconference with the riders in the HANNspree Superbike World Championship. Today we're pleased to have with us Cal Crutchlow, who rides the No. 35 Yamaha YZF R1 for the Yamaha Sterilgarda team. Cal, of course, won both ends of his home race in Silverstone last month, he's been on the podium seven times this season and has five poles. In 2009, he was the World Supersport Champion before graduating to the Yamaha World Superbike team this year. He is currently fifth in the championship with 217 points behind Max Biaggi with 397, Leon Haslam with 339, Jonathan Rea with 288 and Carlos Checa with 224 heading into the penultimate race of the season at Imola on the 26th of this month. As you all probably know, Cal has been chosen to move up to the Monster Energy Tech 3 MotoGP Team for next year, so we have quite a bit to talk about. Cal, welcome and we thank you for being here with us today.
Cal Crutchlow: Thank you very much. Thanks for inviting me along.
Moderator: So here we are. We've got two rounds left to go in the season, four races total. You are fifth and you're just about seven points behind Checa. What are your objectives for the remainder of this season?
Cal Crutchlow: Well, I suppose I always said moving into World Superbike was going to be difficult, so to finish in the top six this year was my plan. And I exceeded my expectation and in the standings am fifth, and actually shaved seven points off fourth. I hope to grab that fourth in the championship I suppose in the last four races. It's going to be difficult. Carlos Checa is a MotoGP winner and World Superbike race winner. And the boys in the front are not going slow this year, so if I can grab fourth, I'll be ecstatic and it will be good to move into MotoGP on good terms and holding my head high, I suppose.
Moderator: It's your first year and your only year in the World Superbike; what has surprised you?
Cal Crutchlow: Quite a lot, really. Moving from Supersport, the bikes are not so different; riding a motorbike is riding a motorbike, I suppose. But the competition in World Superbike is a lot. That's the field. One week you can be 15th, and the next you can be winning. At Kyalami this year, in qualifying two- tenths of a second covered 16 riders. Two-tenths of a second at 100 mph is about five, 10 feet, if that, and to cover 15, 16 riders over that distance is nothing than going around the track all at the same speed, all different riders on all different manufacturers' bikes. It makes the competition tough, and in a way, I'll be better because of World Superbikes because the competition is so good and so strong.
Moderator: You're only going to spend one year in the series and now you're moving on to MotoGP. Are you surprised, that one year and you've gotten called up to the big show?
Cal Crutchlow: Yeah, a little bit. It's an honor to be asked and it just shows that what Yamaha is doing is working. They did it with me and with Ben Spies. They signed Ben to World Superbike, they signed me to Supersport and then signed Ben to MotoGP and me to World Superbike, and now they're assigning Ben to the factory team in MotoGP and me to the satellite team. So really it's working fantastic with what they're doing and in trying to bring riders through, and now they signed Eugene Laverty for World Superbike. They watched him in Supersport, obviously not with Yamaha, but I think they're trying to build a good base for young riders to come through and look for the future. They've got Lorenzo in the main team as well and yeah, it's a nice story to come through from them for winning the Supersport title to doing well in Superbikes and now to move into MotoGP within sort of three years is a fantastic achievement. And yeah, very surprised, but an honor to be asked, really.
Moderator: You've raced here twice at Miller Motorsports Park and I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't ask you what are your thoughts about our facility and the track here?
Cal Crutchlow: I love it. You know, I mean, it's nice to come down. And I've always said what I love about coming to Miller even when I raced Supersport last year and Superbike this year, the fans, you know, they caught you going out of the pit lane and you haven't done anything. And all this support coming to that track. On Supersport, it was absolutely fantastic. Superbike was quite high the work going through the Attitudes and all the attitude and moving the bike from side to side with 220-odd horsepower is hard work. But a great facility and nice to come down two years in a row and be on the podium. It's a shame I won't be going there with MotoGP, but there's always time to come back in World Superbike, I'm sure, towards the end of my career. And I'll be there, doing something, I'm sure.
Moderator: How does Miller compare to other tracks that are on the championship schedule?
Cal Crutchlow: I quite like it because you normally have a track that's either fast or slow. Miller's a bit of both, really. You've got fast straights, about sixth gear on a Superbike, and then you've got the first three, four corners, and especially the one leading onto the little back straight before the hairpin. That's like fourth, fifth gear wide- open on the Superbike. So it's not easy, but then again, you know, you've got the Attitudes where you're changing direction so fast and it's up and down. It's a lot different to European tracks, but in a very good way because you've got everything. As you saw this year, there were three different manufacturers' bikes on the podium, which is good; it equals things out quite a lot. I tell you, it was a really, really good show, but then again, our bikes got top hand and the Aprilias got good top hand and they won the race and we were third, so unfortunate for Carlos this year, but a nice circle around.
Moderator: All right. Well, we appreciate that. Operator, if you don't mind, let's go ahead and open it up to the callers.
Operator: Our first question comes from Ron Lieback of Ultimate MotorCycling magazine. Please proceed with your question.
Ron Lieback: Well, congrats on your MotoGP ride, first of all.
Cal Crutchlow: Thanks very much, it's very much appreciated.
Ron Lieback: Now that you're moving in the satellite team in MotoGP, what plans do you have before next season to train yourself, both mentally and physically, for MotoGP racing?
Cal Crutchlow: Yeah, I think, gosh, Superbike is completely different than MotoGP. You've got the bike that we're riding that's 274 kilos and I'm going to be riding in something that's around 150 kilos next year. So losing a little bit of muscle for me isn't going to be a problem. Dropping four or five kilos from what I am now, which is what I was in Supersport last year. My weight is actually, body-fat-wise, the same, but I put on muscle from riding the Superbike because it's having more power than what I was used to last year. So I dropped exactly back down to what I was last year at Supersport. My training really won't change. I'll probably do it from not riding the Superbike. The weight will drop off from just not riding that Superbike, so I'll just continue what I'm doing. And obviously, there's only one race per round in MotoGP, but it seems to be the big difference in MotoGP at the minute is what's working for me, how light they are and how much they put into things with regards to their diets, instead of being like a bit of robotic with things. But that's what makes a difference, so that's what I'll have to do and I'm looking forward to doing it.
Ron Lieback: Oh, excellent, excellent. And you did well on the Honda during the British championship. But when you landed on the Yamaha, you've really begin getting some excellent results, including your World Supersport title in 2009. What is it about the Yamaha that fits you so well?
Cal Crutchlow: I don't know. I think it's everything that good manufacturers strive for. And I've always said that they're like riding for family a lot more than the other manufacturers I've been with in the past. Laurens and Wilco Zeelenberg and the rest of the Yamaha team, they just look after you just like a family. And it's nice, they know how I work and I know how they work, and I respect that and they respect what I do. And I'll always put the best in, but I think riding Yamaha for me, it was a great move, and now I'll be going into my third year with them next year. And obviously, I've got the deal, so I'll be riding for four years in the end. And it's a honor to do so and I just think I fit with the whole Yamaha brand in general, and it's made my life easy from a riding point of view.
Ron Lieback: Excellent, excellent. About your Silverstone race. I mean, that was an awesome performance this year. Is that your favorite track on the schedule?
Cal Crutchlow: No, I don't really think it is. I think it was just we went there and it was an open field for everyone, a new circuit and we managed to go there and do really well. And to go to a home event, like Ben did last year at Miller, for me to go to Silverstone and do a superb race with two race wins, I couldn't have got a better weekend at all, and it was nice to do it at home. We went there with high hopes and everybody probably wanted to win, but I just think I wanted it a bit more than everyone else.
Ron Lieback: Awesome. So what is your favorite track so far?
Cal Crutchlow: It's hard to say. It's really, really hard to say, but I was just saying earlier that if there's a circuit I can't wait to get to next year, and it's got to be Laguna because I've never ridden there and I've seen so much about it on TV and everyone goes on about the Corkscrew. And it'd be good to go there on a MotoGP bike for the first time. But for the minute, my favorite track is probably Brno. I don't necessarily go the best there, I just quite like it. It's a good layout of a circuit and I have to say Miller was good this year, though, especially on the Superbike. Probably most fun on the Supersport bike is Monza, just because everything's flat-out. You don't really slow for the corners. But I'd say this year, I've had some good races and there's some circuits that I like. But you have to like all the circuits, that's the problem. You can't let the circuit think you don't like it because you won't do very well at it..
Ron Lieback: All right, excellent. I'll let the other guys ask some questions and good luck, man.
Operator: The next question comes from Chris Jonnum of Road Racer X magazine.
Chris Jonnum: Hey, have you ever had the opportunity to test a MotoGP bike in the past, and if so, what were your impressions?
Cal Crutchlow: I actually rode the Rizla bike at the end of 2006. I did 10 laps on it at Valencia because I signed for Rizla Suzuki in the British Superbike Championship for the following year. They let me have a little go at it. It was the last year of the 990, actually, so that was an enjoyable thing to jump on and have a go. I had a go on Hopkins' bike. Funnily enough, I've always said it and I still stick by what I said, they're not as powerful off the corners as a Superbike, and they haven't got the torque that you would think they really have. And you have to keep them above 10,000 revs. When I rode that one, you have to keep it really, really high revving, or else it weaves so much. I didn't really have a full test on it, but I rode it enough to know the difference between a Superbike and a MotoGP bike in that short space of time. I think now that things are moved on I think it's going to be a little bit different, but no, I think it was an enjoyable experience for me. I was only 18 years old, jumping on a MotoGP bike and having a fly around Valencia. But next year is going to be cool and I'll get down to Valencia for the GP test in less than a month's time anyway, so I'm looking forward to riding the bike.
Chris Jonnum: The conventional wisdom has kind of been for the last couple of years that Superbike riders don't make good MotoGP riders. But I think maybe, partly due to Ben, that kind of seems to be changing. And now, with you coming along, do you think that's just kind of an old wives' tail, or do you think it's going to take some work to adapt?
Cal Crutchlow: Yeah, 100 percent, it's going to take work to adapt, and I'm going in there open-minded and humbled, and willing to work. I'll go in there and be willing to work, no problem, as long as we need. But I just heard Ben threw that theory out the window and he's jumped in there as a Superbike rider for the last four or five years, and gone in there and did fantastically well. So that theory has gone out the window, I think, and I don't necessarily think it's about Superbike riders can't do it. I think it's about the riders that get on, if they can do it or not, and if they want to do it. And Ben's showing he's got the determination to do it, and he's doing a fantastic job. So I think if I can go in there with the same attitude he's got, then I'll go in there and do well as well, hopefully. Hopefully, we'll do good in the first year.
Chris Jonnum: Do you think that the second year, when they switch to 1000s, will that be a better fit, or is it just a different deal?
Cal Crutchlow: I've always said that going now is the perfect time to go, because I've got a year learning the circuits and a year learning the team and my MotoGP bike. And then, the second year, everyone's got to start learning again, so I'm already a step a little bit closer because they've got to start learning 1000s again, and the people who weren't on 1000s before have got to learn. So I'll already be that little bit step closer. I think it's going to make it easier in the second year because everyone's got to learn, as well. And I'll be still learning along with them.
Operator: The next question comes from Paul Nielsen of Motoworld Podcast.
Paul Nielsen: Hey, where are you, by the way?
Cal Crutchlow: I'm on the Isle of Man.
Paul Nielsen: Oh, gosh. I forgot when we talked with somebody a while back, you were guys were all over there. What a nice place.
Cal Crutchlow: Yeah, we have a good track over here. We go out everyday in the morning and do cycling or running, and then in the afternoons, it's always Enduro with David Knight or Motorcross or Trials Riding so we have a fantastic time over here, as well as living here. Also there's tax benefits, as well.
Paul Nielsen: Well, that's great. Hey, listen, you were just talking with Chris Jonnum of Road Racer X and the question, you said getting used to your new team when you go into MotoGP. And how do you feel about that? Are you bringing somebody with you from Superbike into GP, and how do you feel about coming into the new team and following in behind Ben?
Cal Crutchlow: I'm really looking forward to it. I am going to be taking someone with me. I'll be taking my crew chief from this year and last year, the one that I won the World Supersport title with and my crew chief now. His name is Marcus Eschenbacher, a German guy who's been employed by Yamaha for years. And it'll be good for me to take someone with me,. Crew chiefs over there don't get to do the stuff that they get to do in the Superbike World Championship, like the inventions and being able to try so much stuff, because of how much is governed by the Japanese. But he's still a fantastic organizer and he knows the way I work, so I'm not worried about sliding into a team. I know Herve quite well, and Herve is a good guy. He runs a fantastic team, and even if I couldn't take my own guy with me, I'm sure I'd be fine anyway. But yeah, I'm not worried about sliding into the team. As for going in sort of Ben's seat, it's going to be an honor to do so. He's done a fantastic job, and he did a brilliant job in World Superbike as well. He won the title in the first year and not many people can say that they've gone and done that. It's a very, very good achievement, and to go into MotoGP and do what he's done already as a rookie, it's superb. Going in there is not going to be easy, but I think everybody knows how good Ben is and takes everything in stride, and if I can go in there with the same sort of attitude, as I said earlier on, I think I'll do good if I can do the same as what he's doing, mental- wise and riding- wise.
Paul Nielsen: Well, you both have worked your way up quite quickly. You have had great successes in your own rights, so not to put anything to Ben or to put you in his shadow. I don't mean to do that. But at the same time, the organization with Yamaha is moving you guys along real quickly. Who have you had along your way, Supersport, Superbike, that has helped you, other than your crew chief, but other people in there that have helped you? For example, Ben had Colin Edwards, who is one of the great development riders around. Who have you had along with you over these years to keep moving you, helping you?
Cal Crutchlow: In general, and still next year, I couldn't really say as much this year, but I can in a way, and I can say for next year, as well. But definitely, my team manager, Wilco Zeelenberg. Jorge Lorenzo's team manager for this year in MotoGP, he managed from last year and he's still going to be Jorge Lorenzo's team manager next year. But he was influential in my move to MotoGP as well, and for my move to Yamaha World Superbike. So as an aspect of riding-wise, and still I talk to him on a daily basis really, with regards to stuff at Yamaha with bikes and with setup and just general attitude towards racing. He's been there and done it before, he knows what he's looking for. And I would say Wilco, definitely.
Paul Nielsen: Okay. My last question then today would be, in your off- season coming up, besides all the training and the things that you're going to have to do to try to get all set up and testing for MotoGP, what are you going to do just for your own, travel-wise, just on your own, what are you going to go do in the off-season?
Cal Crutchlow: I don't know. It's hard--
Paul Nielsen: Just for playing?
Cal Crutchlow: --because I can't necessarily do it on my own because my girlfriend will tell me I've got to take her on holiday, I suppose, because we haven't had too much of a break with a busy schedule this year. I love motocross, I love jet skiing and I love doing my own thing. And I keep myself to myself, but I enjoy that, and that's why I'm able to come into race weekends focused because I know I'll put the effort in the week on my own and done everything right preparation-wise to go into a race weekend. But I don't know, I suppose over the winter, I'll be over to America a little bit because it's warmer over there. I'll go over and see my manager, Bob Moore, over in San Diego and go watch some AMA Supercross races.
Paul Nielsen: Wonderful. Well, Cal, congratulations on your move to MotoGP with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team, and you've had a great season this year, and I look forward to seeing you at Laguna Seca next summer.
Operator: Our next question comes from Jules Cisek of MotoGPod.
Jules Cisek: There's a little mythology about Valentino Rossi testing your bike at Brno, and finding some sort of magical setting. Was there some truth to that? Did you guys get some insights?
Cal Crutchlow: Yeah, I'll be truthful about it. Everybody says, especially the Italian press, Valentino turned the bike around and then we went to win on it. But that's not necessarily the case because Valentino Rossi wasn't riding the bike. And yeah, he helped out definitely. His setup was completely different to mine because he's taller. Yeah, he's similar weight, but he rides the bike completely different. But for me, what he did do was he really, really helped with setting of the bottom of the engine, just opening the throttle the first 15 percent. He put a wet map adjusted in the bike and just used that just to make the bike a lot smoother and less aggressive. We went to Silverstone and we did use it, and I found it helped, and that's why Valentino Rossi's the best rider in the world, or has been the best rider in the world for, I'd say, sort of over the last 10 years. If you look at what he's been able to do, he's definitely been the man to beat and the most recognized motorcycle racer ever, really. So for him to ride the bike and give some input was an honor, and it was nice to sort of hear his comments from riding our machines.
Jules Cisek: Are you applying some of those settings now for the rest of the season?
Cal Crutchlow: No. As I said, he only did that one wet map off the bottom of the engine, it's the first 15 percent, and yeah, I've used it ever since. But the bike still does the same stuff, it just helps with the softness of coming off the corner. But it was a lot easier for Valentino Rossi to come in and say for it to be changed. And then, the guys sort of listened, and then changed it straightway. And when he rode it, he was good. He was on the pace and it was nice for him to come in and ride it on Brno, especially straight after the weekend that we had raced. And yeah, he got some competitive lap times, and I think he enjoyed riding the Superbike. I think he said afterwards he really, really liked it.
Jules Cisek: Yeah, I think he said a couple of times that he might like to give it a try. And then, the follow-up to the whole preparations for the MotoGP, have you talked to James Toseland about it? Are you guys concentrating mostly on this season still or have you pegged him for maybe some advice?
Cal Crutchlow: No, I don't really speak to James about that and I wouldn't really speak to him about it. I think I'd speak to someone who knows GP, and that will probably be Colin if Colin stays a teammate next year. It will be Colin or it will be Ben. But as I said, speaking with Wilco Zeelenberg is probably one of the key things. He's now a team manager at Yamaha and knows a lot about the bikes already. So, no I don't speak to James. I think obviously he's a good rider. He went to MotoGP and did well in the first few races. But I want to do my own thing. I ride completely different to James and I don't really know if his advice would work or not, but yeah, I'll take any advice I can and hopefully go in there with high hopes for next season.
Jules Cisek: Cool; so you're probably ready for your Colin Edwards mancation?
Cal Crutchlow: Yeah, I think he's helped Ben a little bit this year. I don't think Ben really needed too much help from Colin because of how well he's been riding. Ben's a fantastic rider, so obviously he did help him a little bit. And with Colin's experience of riding M1 Yamahas over the years, it's always going to help. And any advice I can get given off Colin I'll be taking, and I look forward to working with him.
Operator: We have a follow-up question from Chris Jonum of Road Racer X magazine.
Chris Jonum: Cal, you mentioned Valentino riding the World Superbike, and I think the word was that you were one of the riders that was offered the chance to ride his bike when he was injured, as a wild card. Is that true, and if so, why did you decide to pass it up?
Cal Crutchlow: Yeah, it was true, definitely true, and I got a formal request from Yamaha to do so. But I passed it up because it was a career thought, and I think it's probably one of the best decisions I've ever made, and Yamaha respected the decision and why I did it. Yeah, I wanted to do it, and to be offered to ride in place of Valentino was an honor. But they wanted me to go to three circuits I've never been to, and I wasn't allowed to test the bike because MotoGP rules state no testing, and there was no time for me to test the bike at that point in the season. So they wanted me to go to Catalunya, which is basically an hour of free practice on a Friday afternoon. I've never ridden a MotoGP bike as such. Obviously, I rode the Rizla bike for 10 laps, but I haven't ridden an 800cc MotoGP bike. I've never ridden on Bridgestone tires and I've never ridden on carbon discs. And it seems to me that the Bridgestone tires are catching everyone out, and you can't just jump in there and just go into a 45-minute free practice on a Friday afternoon, and I think Yamaha respected that decision. I didn't want to get hurt, I wanted to continue in World Superbike, and they were asking me to stop World Superbike and do MotoGP, and I said no to that because I had already started World Superbike, why would I stop? And I think it was a good decision. As I said, it will come back around, and it did. And I'm going to be riding it in less than a month's time, and I'm going to be on the bike for the next year. And it was an opportunity that I passed at the time, but it's still a great opportunity for next year now.
Chris Jonnum: That makes sense. I know the UK is really hungry to have a competitive MotoGP rider. Do you feel any kind of pressure or responsibility in that regard?
Cal Crutchlow: Yeah, there's always big pressure. And I stated last week for a newspaper over here, I want to be the best British MotoGP rider there's been in recent times, because there'd be no point in going into it if I didn't want to be that. And there'd be no point in me lining up on the grid if I didn't want to be the best. You go into a race to win. You go into a championship to do well. And if I had no ambition, then I'd be stupid to be even turning up to the race. So of course, the character of MotoGP riders of the UK haven't done so well and came back in World Superbike quite quickly or whatever. I think I want to stay in MotoGP and do well. And I feel that I've got the determination and the mental energy to do so. And I think I got here quite fast, so I've had the determination and ambition to do that, so there's no reason why I shouldn't have it to do well in MotoGP in the end.
Chris Jonnum: That's good. And my last question is, just taking it back to World Superbike again a little bit, I just wanted to ask your perspective on Ducati's decision to pull out the factory team. I know it's something you're not directly involved in, but maybe that would be give you the opportunity to be more candid than some others might be.
Cal Crutchlow: I think everybody's really involved with it. You said I wasn't too involved with it, but it's a decision that was made and it's affected everyone, because how does a manufacturer of that caliber just manage to pull out? It's bad for everyone, and it's disappointing for everyone, because over the years, how many championships they've had and how many race wins they've had, and now, the series has lost a factory team. It's disappointing and it will be sad to see them go, but I think you'll still see Ducati at the front with the privateer teams. It's just disappointing that the factory guys are not going to be there and it's not going to be a full factory team anymore like it's always been. But I think they'll be out to prove a point in these last four races, so we need to talk that game as well, everyone does.
Operator: We have a follow-up question from Jules Cisek of MotoGPod.
Jules Cisek: You said you really like the Yamaha brand, and I don't know, is it just the bike itself, the R1 and the R6 that you've kind of grown to like?
Cal Crutchlow: Not necessarily. In a way, I don't like the R1, I like riding my 600. It's the best bike that I've ever ridden and I think that will go down for as long as I race as probably one of the best bikes I've ever ridden and such a nice bike to ride. The R1 is difficult to ride and I've always said how Ben won the championship on it last year was incredible. And I think Wayne Gardner said it as well. And I think a lot of people that have rode the bike, journalists and ex-racers have said the same thing, so it's quite a hard bike to ride. So I like the company, the company is a fantastic brand and they do everything right and they try to make things right. It's been a difficult year for us this year, and as it was for Ben last year with regards to getting stuff for the Superbike. But I think as we look at the economy, that's difficult to have a factory team at the moment in MotoGP and World Superbike. If you look at the minute, there's no factory team. Next year, there will be no factory team in both. Obviously, the Honda outfit in MotoGP factory, Honda outfit in World Superbike has been Ten Kate. Suzuki outfit in GP's factory and the Suzuki outfit in World Superbike is not factory. So it's difficult to get the company to focus on Superbike and try and get stuff out of them for that, because MotoGP takes up so much time, it's difficult for that. But I like Yamaha because they'll always put any effort in and no matter what it is, they'll try their hardest with the resources they've got. And it's quite relaxed at Yamaha, it's very, very professional, but relaxed in a way where they make the riders feel welcome and they'll do anything to help you.
Jules Cisek: It's definitely a company that values the riders. The M1 has a reputation for being one of the most adjustable bikes, which sometimes can be a little overwhelming. How is your crew chief going to be preparing for that?
Cal Crutchlow: Yeah, I think looking at data from Jorge, it's very possible because of the link with Wilco Zeelenberg, and Wilco was the team manager last year with the crew chief, and I think he knows my settings, he knows what I like. And I know MotoGP bikes are different, but he knows the way I ride and what I would need, because Ohlins will have things that you can convert over. They'll know what Superbikes setting will set into a MotoGP bike. It will be completely different springs and angle and stuff like that. But they know what works, and going from having Valentino actually riding the bike for seven years, he developed that bike into something quite phenomenal, into a bike that will go to most race circuits and be fast no matter what. And that's the good thing about moving to MotoGP with Yamaha, is moving into a bike that works in most circuits.
Operator: At this time, we're showing no further questions. I'd like to turn the program back to you, Mr. Gardner.
Moderator: All right. Well, we appreciate everybody participating this morning, and we particularly appreciate Cal taking the time to be with us today. We wish you success in the remaining races in the World Superbike calendar and we look forward to seeing you on the grid in MotoGP next year, so thanks very much.
Cal Crutchlow: Fantastic, thank you very much.