Cal Crutchlow, Yamaha Racing test driver and replacement pilot for Andrea Dovizioso, who retired from the MotoGP championship, is the only regular rider of the Royal Class who has up-to-date information about the condition of the Twin Ring Motegi. But among the test pilots, there is another person who, according to Crutchlow, will surprise many this weekend – this Tetsuta Nagashima.
Crutchlow, along with other test pilots of Yamaha, Honda, and Suzuki, participated in factory tests in July 2022 at Twin Ring Motegi. His knowledge and experience from these tests are very important for Yamaha. But Crutchlow himself believes that they are unlikely to help Fabio Quartararo and Co. get an advantage in the upcoming race.
“We participated in the Motegi tests several times this year because the Yamaha program is much more extensive this time than in 2020 or 2021. The last time we were here was in July. We had two days, we did a very good job. But I don’t know if this experience of ours can be applied in reality: it was hot then, under 40, and we only worked with a motorcycle in 2023. Of course, we’ve already shared everything we knew with the guys,” Crutchlow said.
Two Japanese developers also participated in those tests, which the Honda and Suzuki factory teams put up for the Japanese Wildcard Grand Prix. Tetsuta Nakagshima hit Crutchlow with speed, both in July tests and on FP1 this Friday.
In fact, Nagashima is no stranger to the MotoGP paddock: before joining HRC on a permanent basis as an RC213V developer, he competed in Moto2 for four seasons and took victory in the first race of 2020 in Qatar, which was a big surprise for European rivals.
“At the tests, Nagashima was just like a rocket. Motegi knows so well that he is fast on any bike here. He works very hard. I had the opportunity to watch him on those tests… The fact that he will enter the wildcard race is a very interesting event. I think Nagashima-san will surprise many on Sunday!” added Crutchlow.