Cal Crutchlow faces a gruelling challenge just to complete Sunday's Andalucia MotoGP race, and not just because of the freshly broken scaphoid bone in his left wrist.

The aftermath of the anaesthetic from Tuesday's surgery combined with exhausting 35-degree heat has left both Crutchlow and Marc Marquez feeling sick and physically drained.

Marquez has now abandoned his early return from a broken right arm, but Crutchlow will line-up 13th on Sunday's grid as he seeks his first points of the season.

"Over a longer distance with a wrist injury is never good. But it’s more my physical feeling than my wrist," explained Crutchlow, injured in warm-up six days ago. "I don’t feel fantastic. I felt sick after yesterday’s practice. Also when I spoke to Marc this morning he said he felt a bit sick. We think it’s more the anaesthetic.

"We had an operation three days ago. We’ve been in hospital and feel physically drained. Then it’s about 5 million degrees outside! Riding the Honda around this circuit is never easy. It’s not a smooth bike to ride, you have to push a lot in braking and cornering to get the lap time.

"At the moment I’m using my right arm a lot more than my left but I feel completely in control of the bike. In the middle of the corner I have a strange feeling that I’m not holding the handlebar correctly. But I never miss a braking marker, always stop.

"My wrist is not that swollen so I can manage it. Also, I have a high pain threshold so I don’t really feel in massive pain. Over 25 laps it might be difficult. But I’ll try.

"I feel better today than yesterday so I’m hoping tomorrow I'll feel better again and overall we’re pleased with my performance. In qualifying I tried my best. I’ve always said if I give my 100% and if that’s 12th, 13th, 15th, I have to be happy."

With Crutchlow, Marquez and Alex Rins (dislocated shoulder) all passed fit to ride just days after suffering substantial injuries, questions have been raised about the level of the medical test.

"It wasn’t easy," Crutchlow said. "People think you can just walk in there and they say 'you can ride. See you later'. I don’t know how many of you [journalists] have had broken bones, come back and stood there in front of three doctors that all do the same test on you three times - grabbing you and ragging you around to see if you can ride or handle a bike that’s moving...

"I don’t know what the other guys did, but I’m sure it’s the same. I had to do a strength test. I had to do a flexibility test, as in how much I can move my wrist. And how much you can grip someone’s hand, to show how well you can grip the handlebar.

"It wasn’t easy, I can tell you that. I passed the test but it's also on agreement that you'll speak to the doctor in the session. So you’re passed fit for the first session. They then assess you in that session and make sure you’re able to continue.

"It’s not like you just walk in there and they sign your form."

While able to compete this weekend, Crutchlow conceded that he's not in a fast enough state to accurately assess new developments on the RC213V, after appearing to receive a different chassis on Friday.

"I had something different yesterday but it was impossible to test something and see positives in it when I’m not going fast enough. I was too uncomfortable to try these things," he said.

"We were trying [set-up] stuff today and I could feel a difference. But parts wise I need to be running a fast lap time to try that. 1s off isn’t good enough for testing parts, in my opinion, when you’re looking for 0.2s.

"That's also why test riders need to be fast. No point riding around 1-2s off.

"So I couldn’t really test what [HRC] wanted me to test. I appreciate they wanted me to evaluate things but I think it was a bit of an ask when I didn’t know I could ride at all. "

With both of Honda's MotoGP race winners injured, Crutchlow's team-mate Takaaki Nakagami has 'stepped up to the plate' on the 2019-spec bike, leading both FP2 and FP4 before qualifying in eighth place.

"Taka is riding very well," said Crutchlow. "He’s in his third year in MotoGP and this is what you expect when you’re riding for a factory. You need to step up to the plate and that’s what he’s doing this weekend. "

Nakagami credited some of his performance to examining his data alongside that of Marquez.

"Not really any big change. Just after the first race, me and the team, also the HRC guys with Takeo, we saw Marc's data and just deeply checked on the data the difference between Marc's bike and mine.

"There was a big difference in only one point on the setup on the bike. We didn't copy, but tried a little bit Marc's side of the setting, which is good for the Honda bike. And he knows very well how to adapt to this 'heavy' [handling] bike.

"On the data I understood how he manages with this bike, and this is good to understand. On Friday I tried, and suddenly I feel much more comfortable and much easier riding, and the lap time is more consistent. This is the difference.

"The main thing is just a little bit different setup, but I changed my riding completely. I tried like Márquez riding. I can't completely copy, but I try to ride how he rides, how he manages this bike."

Told about Nakagami's progress after seeing the data, Crutchlow quipped: "If you can look at Marc's data and suddenly ride like Marc, he should win the race tomorrow then!"

 

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