LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow thinks he has understood Ducati’s strategy after riding behind Andrea Dovizioso in MotoGP’s Japanese Grand prix.
Crutchlow was involved in a three-way fight for the win along with Dovizioso and Honda’s Marc Marquez at Twin Ring Motegi in the early stages of the Japanese GP. He stayed on with the lead group for much of race but wasn’t able to attack fully.
In fact, the British rider admitted he should have pounced on Dovizioso at the start itself rather than wait it out which helped the Italian rider in the end. Once behind him, Crutchlow thinks he understood the strategy for Ducati in the races.
He feels Dovizioso was slowing down for few laps and out of a sudden, he was pacing up again which made it a lot tougher for either Marquez and Crutchlow to pass. The LCR Honda rider said he had been observing the pattern for some races now.
“The race was a strange one,” said Crutchlow. “I felt good, but the problem was, I should have went for the lead early on but I was a little bit concerned about our power strategy and how I would press the buttons alone on the bike.
“So I decided to sit behind Dovi. I had passed Marc, and I thought I if could pass Dovi, the they could fight it out and it would be okay. But then when Marc passed me back, I thought, ‘okay, now leave them to it’.
“The problem was that Dovi was yo-yoing the pace again. Now we know the strategy of Ducati, which they have done for four or five races in a row now: they do two or three fast laps, then he slows the pace down, and the he does two or three fast laps again.
“That was allowing Alex and the group behind to catch and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s so difficult to pass the Ducati because even when he slows down for a lap, the Ducati has so much power off the turns.
“If I would have got a run at him [Dovizioso] I would have tapped him at the leg saying, ‘come on, push push’ because we could have used the tyre then and broke the guys behind, I think.
“I was swearing a little bit in my helmet, not at him, just in general at the situation. My concern was the guys coming back. There was a group 1.7s behind and in three laps they catch us because they [Dovizioso and Marquez] slow down the pace.
“It is just a pattern you see. Even when the Ducati does a slow lap, the way it accelerates off the corner is really strong so it is really difficult to get a run past them. You just look the laptime in every race.
“He can do [1m]45.8s, [1m]45.7s and the next lap he does a [1m]46.5s, it is a big difference. Now we sort of see the full pattern, we know we have to attack him even more. I don’t know why they do it, I don’t know if it is him, but that is their strategy.
“That was why I was trying to get to the front. Even when he does an average laptime, it is so difficult to get a run to get past him. Then he ramps up the pace again.” His factory teammate Marquez agreed when asked but he played it down to just normal tactics.