The Yamaha test rider and three-time MotoGP race winner replaces the departed Andrea Davizioso to the RNF for the final rounds of the 2022 season, returning to Aragon last week.
Crutchlow has recent track experience at Motegi from his tests on the 2023 Yamaha and spent most of Friday’s FP1 session inside the top 10.
But a bad soft rear tire in his final attack left him around six-tenths off the Ducati’s pace Jack Miller in 17th and likely to face Q1 with Saturday’s FP2 session a washout.
“I have to be too competitive because I’m pissed off not in the top 10, really pissed off,” Crutchlow said.
“I felt good but the last tire was really bad and I never had the same grip as the first tyre.
“I felt too good on the first tire and then I thought, ‘OK, I’ve got a good banker and I know I can take a tenth of the sector.’
“One-tenth puts me on the sector. And this simply did not happen. I had a perfect marker, Jack [Miller] let me go after him and I left him for half a second because I didn’t want to be too close for the last run but I had a bad tire.
“So I couldn’t even get out of the corner. I could go into a corner pretty well
“I just couldn’t get out. I told Jack after, actually… he never hit any peaks and did the lap anyway. And I said, ‘If it’s a commitment, I’m not doing it,’ because it was so wide, it was blowing left, right and center, and it still made a circle.”
Cal Crutchlow, RNF MotoGP Racing
Photo: Gold and Goose / Images of motor sports
Crutchlow didn’t elaborate on the differences between Yamaha’s current package and the 2023 package he tested at Mategi this year, but noted that he had never seen the Japanese marque “put so much effort into it.”
“I can’t tell you,” he said when asked what the difference between the two motorcycles was.
“It’s definitely faster on the straight, the one I drove a few weeks ago. But Yamaha didn’t redo its bike for 2023.
“It looks the same and they did a good job. As we know they have a new chassis and the guys are using it too.
“It was an improvement in two areas, but an improvement in one very critical area for me.
“But other guys are enjoying it in different areas, which is good, they’re making good moves. So, I’ve never seen Yamaha put in so much effort.
“So it’s good. But the bike is fast, the new one is fast, and that’s the most important thing in the first place.”