LONDON (Reuters) - Less could be more for double MotoGP race winner Cal Crutchlow this year with the Briton seeking to build on his breakthrough 2016 season by targeting what would be a momentous home triumph.
The LCR Honda rider in August became the first Briton in 35 years, and first since the late and great world champion Barry Sheene, to win in the top category of grand prix motorcycling.
The man with the number 35 on his bike, who already had plenty to celebrate off-track with the birth of his daughter Willow, then added to the wet Czech victory with another in the dry in Australia.
Improving on those racing achievements in his seventh season on the starting grid will be a big ask, but the 31-year-old has something in mind.
“If you look at the statistics it’s difficult (to win more) because there were nine different race winners last year and I believe those nine can win again,” he told Reuters in an interview at London’s Royal Automobile Club.
“So there’s nine races taken up. I don’t think it is going to go like that, but it’s a possibility. Then you have a guy who is going to win a few races and I won a few races last year, Valentino (Rossi) won two races.
“And you have other factory guys who only won one race. I think it’s a lottery. An absolute up-and-down lottery. It’s not easy to better last year because I had some great podiums, I had a good result at Silverstone with the home crowd,” he added.
Winning the top class at the British Grand Prix, a feat not achieved by any home rider since 1976 when the Isle of Man TT constituted the country’s championship round, would be as sensational as last year’s successes.
Crutchlow started on pole and came second at Silverstone in September, behind Spanish first-time winner Maverick Vinales on a Suzuki. The race was shortened to 19 laps after being red-flagged on the first lap.
“If I said there was one thing that I could better this year, it’s maybe to win Silverstone,” said Crutchlow before collecting the RAC’s Torrens Trophy for outstanding motorcycle achievement.
Asked whether that would be more special than two wins elsewhere, he did not hesitate: “Oh yeah. Easy.”
Except it will be anything but easy on a non-works machine that gives away two tenths of a lap to the factory bikes - a significant performance gap over 30 laps.
One win anywhere is already a massive achievement and accumulating more points this year than last looks more likely given that Crutchlow suffered a terrible start to 2016 before picking up the pace.
He ended last season with 141 points and seventh overall, the top independent rider.
The straight-talking Coventry-born racer is still hoping for more, of course.
“We all go into the season wanting and thinking we can win the title. If we didn’t, there’d be no point to race. That’s my opinion,” he said.
“But I know how difficult it is on a satellite team. You have to be racing for a factory team to win the title as far as I’m concerned, in this day and era. I’ll give it a shot and that’s all you can do.”
The season starts with a night race in Qatar on March 26. Britain’s round is on Aug. 27.
Editing by Ed Osmond