Austin GP didn’t go as they expected, but Lucio Cecchinello’s LCR Honda Team is currently having a very good time. Cal Crutchlow won Argentinian GP and so he became the first British rider leading the “top class” standings after Barry Sheene (1979). In spite of the mistake made at Austin, Cal is now just 8 points off Andrea Dovizioso, the current championship leader. Here you can read how Lucio Cecchinello (LCR Honda Team Owner) is living the moment.
«This was extraordinary, but while we had a wonderful start of the season, the riders expected to be in the front had some setbacks. It wasn’t that meaningful to lead the championship after the first two races, because I’d rather be in that position before the last two races. We keep our feet on the ground».
But the last time a rider of a satellite team was first in the championship happened even in 2004, with Gresini Team’s Sete Gibernau.
«I think manufacturers have helped satellite teams a lot, since they supply them components which are almost the same as those of the official teams. For example Ducati does it with Petrucci and HRC with us, and I don’t think Tech 3’s Yamaha is that different from the official one».
When you were a rider, in 2003 you led 125cc World Championship after Mugello GP, together with Dani Pedrosa. This year you did the same, but as a team owner.
«it’s better to do it when you’re a rider: you feel special and more satisfied, because actually you do something special, when you ride at 300 km/h. But life goes on and now for a team like ours, closely followed by HRC, but with limited human resources, it’s wonderful to be among the best».
Crutchlow has given credit to what you’re doing this year.
«We did our best to give him and good bike and then he did the great job. Today in MotoGP it’s hard to find a good setup with electronics, engine, chassis, tyres and suspension. It’s very difficult to make all these parts work harmoniously and it’s clear that official teams have more engineers working on smaller areas. For example, we have four engineers and they perform the same tasks as the 12 or 15 they have at HRC. We often share on social media the photos we take when we leave the circuit, when parking lots are empty: “Once again we’re the last who leave the track”. When we finish, we’re always exhausted».
Crutchlow believes he can be always in the front.
«I agree. Cal has been in the first positions since winter tests. Then we have to see how it will go in the remainder of the season. Honda is helping us a lot, but of course some new parts and updates first go to Márquez. I’m not worried about how HRC supports us, but rather about what Viñales or Lorenzo will do after struggling in the first few races».
Is Crutchlow living the best time of his career?
«Yes. He’s an extraordinary rider that had many changes along his career: he went from Supersport to Superbike and then to MotoGP and he also switched from Yamaha to Ducati and then to Honda. Now, for the first time,he’s been competing with the same bike and the same staff for more years. Today you need to work well on every single part and, to do this, you need capabilities, harmony and alchemy, things it takes some time to achieve. Now Cal knows Honda and the crew knows him, so we’re in best situation. Cal has also learnt to keep calm».
You’ve also expanded the team and signed Takaaki Nakagami.
«He’s a real Japanese rider: at the beginning he’s reluctant and he just wants to evaluate the situation carefully. So far he’s struggled a lot in QPs, but in the races it’s gone much better. He’s talented but he needs some time. We should also consider that Nakagami, as well as Morbidelli and Luthi, rides the end of 2017-spec Honda and it’s engine is not at the same level as this year’s bike».
Is RC213V the best machine of the field?
«If I was a rider, I would choose Honda, even if theoretically Yamaha . Però la Honda ha gran motore. E non è finita qui».