Cycle News

Cycle News 2013 Issue 33 August 20

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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CN III IN THE PADDOCK P126 BY MICHAEL SCOTT CRUTCHLOW AND THE DESMO DIRGE I t's hard to believe that the best that Audi and Ducati can do between them is to keep on scrabbling with their fingernails, managing only narrowly to stop themselves sliding further away backwards into the clutches of the CRT bikes. New ownership, new management, new staff members, new working practices, new money and a combination of old and new riders can surely do better than this. Especially with a series of evolutionary developments tested on the so-called lab bike by full-time tester Michele Pirro. By and large (though not every time) Ducati lap times are better than last year. The problem is simple: so too are the lap times of the rivals. And the riders' dirge is the same as that which darkened the Doctor's Ducati doldrums: "Understeer, poor corner entry, wanders off line, rear suspension pumps, good power wasted on a bad chassis, hope it rains tomorrow." It's still hard to believe there is not something better coming, and apparently Cal Crutchlow shares that conviction. Or is he just a victim of circumstance, talent and age, at a time when there are more factoryclass bottoms than there are factory saddles to put them on? Cal's status as junior alien and best of the rest is substantiated by results that have steadily im- proved over two-and-a-half years in the premier class. Until Laguna, the last race of the first half of the season, he outranked Valentino Rossi in the points and has beaten him twice. The British relative rookie languished just one point behind the grand master, in spite of riding a (marginally) lower grade of Yamaha. His claim to be worthy of a factory bike is equally strident, and equally plausible. If all was right with the world, he'd be a shooin for Yamaha. But all is not right: He's been passed over. Yamaha did offer to pay his salary to stay put (lord knows what they would have done with the already contracted Bradley Smith), but his stature demands at least a firm promise of a full factory bike in the foreseeable future. Yamaha however have some- one else in mind, for when Rossi or Jorge Lorenzo depart the factory squad. Mindful of the threat of future domination by Honda's prize new boy wonder Marc Marquez, still only 20 and with years of winning left in him, Yamaha has snapped up his (defeated) Moto2 rival Pol Espargaro, in the hope that the 22-year-old can have another pop at his compatriot. The prospects at Honda were no better: a B-grade production racer with the Gresini team, with the carrot of a satellite bike for the following year. Not a step forward, in terms of status or performance. At 27, Crutchlow can't afford to spend too much more time waiting, anyway. Ducati could not only offer him a factory bike, such as it is. They could also offer him a fee

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