Phillip Island MotoGP: Crutchlow: You could ride old Yamahas with one hand – not now | MotoGP

But the Englishman, who replaces Andrea Dovizioso retired at RNF Yamaha for six rounds, will still ride for seven of the last eight weeks of the season returning to Jerez between Sepang and the Valencia final.

This ride will be on the latest version of the 2023 Yamaha prototype, which will then be handed over to race riders Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli for the Valencia post-race test.

“It was nice to have a week off,” Crutchlow said. “I was supposed to do eight weekends in a row and now I’m doing seven. I have a test after Malaysia, but that’s not relevant for this year. It’s still the ’23 bike.

“We’ll see how we do. I think we can improve this bike in some areas and then it’s time for me to kind of transition it to the other [race] guys and get their feeling.

“They only rode once and it was on a track with so much grip that there is no problem. We found on other circuits, there are more problems, let’s say, but also more positive points.

“You could ride the 2012-13 Yamahas with one hand on the handlebars”

Quartararo and Morbidelli gave rave reviews after trying an early version of the much-needed 2023 M1 engine upgrade at Misano last month.

But three-time MotoGP race winner Crutchlow, who led the development of the new on-track machine, thinks handling shouldn’t be overlooked.

“What they wanted was more power and more [top] speed and they have it. But I don’t think it’s the be-all and end-all,” he explained.

“For me, it’s the handling of the bike. When I was cycling in 2012-13, you could cycle with one hand on the handlebars half the time. And now it’s impossible to do that.

“I think they have to make the bike more handling, more stable and I have a great idea to be able to do that. But it’s not easy to convince them to do that. Because it’s not a small affair.

“On the other hand, this year’s bike, which is basically last year’s bike, is a good bike that still leads the championship by two points.

“The problem is that it’s not good for everyone – it’s good for Fabio. So let’s see.

Crutchlow added: “I’m very optimistic about what they’ll bring. They work hard. Honestly, I’ve never seen Yamaha have to work that hard, to begin with, and I’ve never seen Yamaha actually do it.

“So I’m positive. We have to iron out some areas, but I think it will be more in [time for] Malaysia [in February].”

Crutchlow: ‘Adrenaline is the best thing’ for injured foot

After scoring points at Aragon and Motegi, Crutchlow – like the other Yamaha riders – battled a suspected case of high tire pressure as he headed for 17th in the wet Buriram race.

The 36-year-old, a winner at Phillip Island in 2016 and a podium finish in 2019, returns with fresh injuries to his right ankle which he suffered on the Australian Tour in 2018, after a huge training highside in Thailand.

“Really painful,” he said. “The surgeon who operated [in 2018] arrives this weekend and the hospital will compare [new X rays] parallel to those of the operation, etc.

“We think the bruising has inflamed the soft tissue and the nerve, because if I push even in certain areas of my foot, it’s so painful.

“But I put in a good 20 hours on the bike last week, so it’s not like I can’t do anything.

“If I move it in a certain way, it’s so painful, but nothing is badly damaged, because I was worried that the plate had moved or something. But luckily it’s okay.

“We’ll see this weekend when the bike is shaking at 300 and…I was going to say 350k per hour, but ours will be around 320!

“But the adrenaline is the best for it. The race weekend in Buriram my ankle was fine, it was really swollen, but I had no pain. That’s after I I had pain.”

The weather forecast calls for heavy rain on Friday, with a chance of showers and cold weather continuing on Saturday and Sunday.

“I expect tough conditions tomorrow and a tough race weekend. You have to handle the situation as best you can,” Crutchlow said.

“There’s a lot to play for this weekend, with the guys leading the championship, so it could be a weird race, but I’m looking forward to it. It’s a special circuit and a difficult circuit, with its speed and also now because of all the ride height and aero devices.

“We’ll see what the weather brings first and foremost, because the weather can affect whether you go 2 seconds per lap faster or 2 seconds per lap slower here, because tire activation is difficult.”

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