Photo of the Week: Forged Mettle

04/16/2012 @ 10:42 am, by Scott Jones9 COMMENTS

What a difference a tire makes. Last season in each of Cal Crutchlow’s rider debriefs that I attended, the topic at some point came around to the Bridgestone tire and how treacherous it was during warm-up. Once the tire reached operating temperature, it was fantastic if the rider could keep it hot enough. But until it gathered enough heat, it was flat out dangerous, as so many cold tire high-side crashes proved in 2011.

Crutchlow was one of the most outspoken riders in asking Bridgestone to change the tire design, which they have done for 2012. This year’s control tire warms up much faster, allowing riders to get through the early laps of a session without a dramatic high side, of which we had none in Qatar.

In the 2012 Championship’s first race weekend we saw what this change has meant for Crutchlow. Though in 2011 he showed signs of the pace that made him the 2009 World Supersport Champion, the broken collar bone he suffered in his home race at Silverstone appeared to plague his confidence throughout the rest of the season. The 2012 Yamaha YRZ-M1 is competitive, perhaps more so than any satellite Yamaha in recent years, and together with teammate Andrea Dovizioso (recently displaced from the Repsol Honda squad), Crutchlow battled intensely for an impressive 4th and 5th place finish for the Tech 3 Yamaha team.

What can a satellite team reasonably hope for against the factory efforts? To beat the other non-factory teams, which Tech 3 did soundly in the season opener. I expect the combination of the racy 2012 Yamaha and the new Bridgestone tire will make Cal a force to be reckoned with in the battle for Best of the Rest, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him on the podium if things go his way in a handful of races.

Scott Jones is a professional photographer who covers MotoGP and WSBK for racing industry clients as well as racing websites and publications in the U.S. and Europe. His online archive is available at Photo.GP, and you can find him on his blogTwitter, & Facebook.

All images posted, shared, or sent for editorial use or review are registered for full copyright protection at the Library of Congress.

Photo: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

  • Afletra

    That’s it…not so long ago, many people look down to them -champions from WSS ors SBK which moved to motoGP, well…time have answered :)

  • z

    In the past few years Bridgestone has proven their point and shown F1 and GP fans that they can make a sick tire that lasts race distance. Good on them to actually take the riders advice to add safety at the expense of their legendary durability. Cal will surely benefit and hopefully gets on the box a few times. Even aliens can crash out or have an off day and Cal should be right there to capitalize when that happens

  • If Cal keeps it up the rest of the Championship, we should have a very interesting MotoGP silly season.

  • Westward

    As far as WBSK pilots transitioning to MotoGP goes, Spies is the best of them. If he were back in WBSK, he probably be a three time champion already. Crutchlow won WSS on a 600, I would have liked to see how he holds up to the other Moto2 guys. I have a feeling it wouldn’t look pretty. Just ask Sofuoglu…

  • Alex

    As he is on a satellite bike, shouldn’t this be one of the more competitive races for Crutchlow? As the season progresses, the factory bikes will receive updates that Cal will not get (unless he is in a points position where Yamaha cannot afford to deny him updates).

  • I’m with Jensen on this one: I suspect that we’ve only just gotten a taste of Crutchlow’s real talent. The season should be really exciting.

  • Scott Jones – very cool photo, man! It gives such a good glimpse into the crazed speed & braking,

  • I

    Might be random, but what’s the go with the leg out trend.

    Noticed Rossi doing it and thought it was to blatantly to block passing riders, but does it actually work as an air brake or help with setting up for a corner?

    Assumed a knee out would scoop air in and work better than a leg out, if they claim if it’s for braking?

  • @I: Yes, the leg out functions both to brake and block.