Round 12 of MotoGP takes place over the 24-26 August weekend at Silverstone after the Northamptonshire-based circuit won a three-year extension to their contract which sees them hosting the British round until 2020. Having fought off the interests of Donington Park, Silverstone’s bosses set about making investments into the circuit condition that could see a reduction in lap time of up to 2-seconds, a claim that was made this week by Britain’s Cal Crutchlow.
The 32-year old LCR Honda rider was at Silverstone to become the first MotoGP rider to test the new surface, covering the whole 3.66-mile Grand Prix circuit, and was seemingly very impressed.
Despite labelling the circuit “boring” last summer, the Coventry-born rider, now in his 8th season in MotoGP, has since changed his tune. Having completed a handful of flying laps on the striking Honda RC213V-S, Crutchlow told BikeSocial “there’s no better place to ride in the world.”
We caught up with the first British rider to have led the world championship since Barry Sheene in 1979 at Silverstone to talk about the season so far, how he feels about his championship prospects, where to watch at Silverstone, where he ranks the British circuit compared to the other 18 on the calendar and how much time can be knocked off the current lap record.
Yeah, topsy-turvy. We’re only four races in though, we’ve got 15 left. It was an exciting start to the year, testing went very, very well and the first two races went well, obviously. Texas was going well performance-wise as in speed and also Jerez but I didn’t finish those two races and that’s the way it is. We have to accept it, move on and I look forward to Le Mans this weekend.
We tested straight after Jerez on the Monday and then the Thursday in Mugello so there’s been no rest and then we go straight after Le Mans to test at Catalunya and obviously I’m here with you today at Silverstone but we’ve got no new parts on the bike. But we’re also trying to refine the set-up as best as possible to try and figure things out because sometimes you can try things for ten laps at a test and don’t know if it works very well then we go to the next track and it may work so we try different lengths of the bike, springs, you know, stiffness of the chassis all the time and that’s just our job, that’s what we have to do but in the end essentially the bike is the bike and we know what it does with those different settings. It’s just at those different circuits it acts a little bit different.
At Le Mans, the bike works ok. I think some of our rival manufacturers their bike maybe suits that circuit a little bit better than ours but we know the Honda’s working superb this year. At most circuits we’ve been to, we’ve found the speed easier to come to than last year.
Yeas, it’s always good. You know, in my third season at Tech 3 when I was there that was my best year and I believe if I’d stayed on for a fourth then that would have been the year to challenge for the top three in the world championship, maybe not have won the world championship but been there. Then I went to Ducati and then I came to this team and it took me a couple of years but I believe that this year is going to be better than the last couple and I have to believe that next year will be better than this one. You get to know those guys inside out, and they know me inside out as well. You never stop learning new things with regards to the manufacturer or the bike and that’s what makes motorcycle racing so great. I have a group of guys and team around me at LCR and hopefully this year we can aim for the top three in the championship. You never know what can happen.
The surface is great. Silverstone have made a real investment in MotoGP, in the circuit. They’ve really listened to what we need over the years because there we so many different pieces of tarmac that were put together, and there were different grip levels and bumps and they’ve made one now. And there’s a lot, lot less bumps! So, I’m obviously very pleased with that and I’ll go back to MotoGP and give that information to them so that they don’t have to come here and try it either. Overall, we’ve had a successful day with regards to riding this bike and also testing the new surface out. I’ve been impressed with what they’ve done and I’ve been impressed with their enthusiasm they’ve got for MotoGP and the investment that they’ve put into this is massive.
I would put a big guess out there and say a ’57, a high ’57, if we have a good weekend. If he’s done a high ’59…maybe… well, look at Jerez, we were taking a second a lap on last year and that’s been resurfaced. But with the length of this track, you have to say that… well, I could be way off and we could stay in the 59’s but it’s definitely not going to be slower.
Yes, definitely. As a motorcycle racer you’re always looking for a track with character and we found this track quite hard to ride because there were so many bumps and so many different situations you had to manage every single lap but now it seems as though we’ve got that consistency all the way through.
Honestly, there’s no better place to ride in the world when it’s on, when the track’s in great condition, when the weather’s good. We have 5th gear corners, we have 1st gear corners and we have a 210mph straight, it’s got a bit of everything here. I always look forward to coming here and trying to put on a show and doing the best we can and this year is going to be even more.
The last corner, especially if I’m in a good position! That last sector, the whole of the last sector into Brooklands and onto the start/finish straight is superb, the atmosphere is always great. If you’re new coming to MotoGP, I’ve always said ‘come and see it, come and see what it’s about because for me it’s the greatest sport on earth’. Whenever anyone comes, they always feel the same. That’s what we want to do, we want to get MotoGP and motorcycle racing on a big platform in the UK.
General admission tickets for the GoPro British MotoGP can be purchased at www.silverstone.co.uk - prices start at £25, with kids under 10 going free.