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LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow says he “couldn’t have asked for a better” return to riding in pre-season MotoGP testing at Sepang following a three-month injury layoff.
Crutchlow broke his right ankle in a heavy crash at Phillip Island, and was ruled out of the final three rounds of the 2018 season as he underwent multiple surgeries.
He rode a bike for the first time again on the first day of testing at Sepang on Wednesday and ended up fastest of Honda’s contingent on Friday, finishing sixth fastest.
Although his ankle has not healed completely, Crutchlow said his injury had not bothered him while riding.
“Overall I am pleased with how the three days have gone, I couldn’t have asked for a better three days,” said Crutchlow.
“My ankle is getting sore and hot and swollen but I feel in good shape. Better than expected.
“I feel the ankle is in good shape it doesn’t bother me on the bike, it bothers me when I stop.
“It’s still slow, I’m slow to move my foot around the rear brake and the peg but I feel in good shape considering I had three months off the bike.
“Don’t get me wrong, I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus every morning that I get up.”
Crutchlow said he could have been “a lot faster” on the final day of the test had it not been for a mistake on his fastest lap.
He then crashed on his following lap.
“I should have gone a lot faster but I crashed, it was completely my own fault, I went into Turn 2 overexcited,” he said.
“I lost three tenths in the first sector of my fastest lap, compared to a good lap, so the next lap I push like a madman thinking I need to go like half a second faster.
“I had some chatter and I crashed. That was with the really soft tyre and I think on average you could take about six-eight tenths off – so I comfortably could have gone a lot quicker.”
Crutchlow added that he is yet to feel comfortable on Honda’s 2019-spec machine, which he said was partly due to missing post-season testst at Valencia and Jerez as well as a different front-end feeling from the bike.
” I got to ride both [the 2018 and ’19] bikes this week so I know what the other one felt like,” he said.
“But I missed two tests on the ’19 bike and how to adapt the bike to how we want it to feel.
“Maybe I have to also adapt but I don’t feel comfortable in one area or another. With the Honda we crash a lot in the braking zone and we overstress the front.
“My front end feeling is the completely opposite, I feel like I don’t have the load like last year so maybe they have improved and I need to also adapt.”