Cal Crutchlow: Honda was most difficult MotoGP bike again in 2016

Honda’s 2016 bike eclipsed its predecessor as the toughest machine Cal Crutchlow has ridden in MotoGP.

After time on satellite Yamahas with Tech3 and then a single season factory Ducati, the Briton joined LCR Honda in 2015.

That represented Crutchlow’s third different manufacturer in as many seasons, and he classed the Honda as the hardest bike he had experienced in MotoGP.

Honda’s aggressive power delivery, combined with a change to a control ECU and Michelin tyres, added to that challenge again in 2016, Crutchlow believes.

“This year’s is probably even worse,” Crutchlow told Autosport.

“Like I’ve always said, the easiest one was Yamaha. It’s like smoking a cigarette riding around compared to the Honda.

“The Ducati was then in the middle and then this one is the hardest one to ride.

“Your heart rate is way higher than the other bikes.

“Physically, mentally, you have to correct everything with our bike all the time where the other ones just do it.

“[On rival bikes] you don’t have to worry about the rear brake, you don’t have to worry about the wheelie.

“But that’s what makes Honda, Honda. That’s what makes it exciting, that’s what makes it a challenge.

“If I wanted to move I’d move.”

Marc Marquez won his third title in four years with Honda in 2016, winning five races to go with two for Crutchlow and one each for Dani Pedrosa and Marc VDS satellite rider Jack Miller.

That gave Honda a total of nine wins from the 18 grands prix, but life was tougher for the riders other than Marquez over the course of the campaign, with Pedrosa and Crutchlow finishing sixth and seventh in the points.

Crutchlow endured a particularly tough start to the season – 18th after eight races – and he believes that subsequent gains were down to understanding the package more, rather than Honda making breakthrough with the less-refined electronics.

“I don’t think that they’ve done one thing to suddenly make it better,” he said.

“Marc kept saying the electronics were improving but really we never had any updates or anything like that.

“Everyone was just learning to ride the package more.

“If you look where Tito [Rabat] and Jack are, they’re nowhere.

“And we’re not getting anything special or new, it’s just we’re learning to ride faster with what we’ve got.

“I don’t think there are three other riders that could go our speed with our package – me, Marc and Dani.

“If there was there’d be different people on the bikes.”