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Honda still hardest MotoGP bike to ride 'by far' - Cal Crutchlow

LCR rider Cal Crutchlow says Honda's MotoGP bike remains "by far" the hardest to ride on the grid despite recent gains made by the Japanese manufacturer

Honda enjoyed a strong off-season in testing and its four-time world champion Marc Marquez finished a close second in the Qatar season opener last month, indicating the manufacturer had made progress with its bike on a circuit it has traditional been less competitive at.

But Crutchlow, who rode his works-spec RC213V to fourth in Qatar, is convinced the Honda remains the most difficult package to get to grips with.

Asked if Honda was in better shape than its rivals, he said: "No. Honda has the best riders.

"If you look at the calibre of Marc, if you look at Dani [Pedrosa]. I've learned to ride the bike in a very good way.

"But notoriously the Honda is the hardest bike to ride by far. You can see on the TV, all you need to do is open your eyes and you'll see it.

"We are in a lot better shape than we have been in previous seasons, but I think the riders are pushing very, very hard."

Crutchlow said his strong finish in the season opener was down to Honda's improvements as well as his own progress.

"[Qatar] doesn't suit me particularly, let alone the Honda, but the Honda has obviously improved, and I've improved riding-wise for sure," he added.

"It's a combination of both. I think we've been competitive, Marc's won here before, he's been on the podium here before, it was expected he was there.

"But I think we did well to be in that [leading] group and be able to battle, and I think my team and Honda have done a great job.

"I've had a fourth place here before, but that was on a Yamaha - I may as well have been riding a scalextric bike with grip I had."

The Qatar weekend featured a number of strong showings from privateer teams, with Tech3 Yamaha's Johann Zarco claiming a record-breaking pole and mounting a credible podium challenge in the race alongside Crutchlow and Pramac Ducati's Danilo Petrucci.

But Crutchlow played down the independents' chances of mixing it with the works outfits over the full season.

"It's the resources you have got as a factory team; the money you spend, the staff, the people," he said. "The resources they've got is endless.

"I'm not just talking about budget, but it's the money that creates everything.

"It's the resources that, over the championship, the season, just makes those 50 points difference in the end.

"If we can continue a decent run of form, we'll see - I don't know.

"Zarco is strong. [But] I reiterate what I said - he ain't doing that on a Honda. He's not doing that on a Honda, I can tell you now."

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