Cal Crutchlow is remaining realistic about his chances for the season opening Qatar Grand Prix next weekend after testing came to a close yesterday. The Briton finished as the fastest rider and was delighted with the work his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team completed given the machinery at his disposal but isn’t sure he will be in such a lofty position when the racing starts.
“It is obviously very satisfying to finish the test with the fastest time because it shows what a really good job I did and what a great job my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team did too. It is a shame we didn’t get the chance to get in a lot more dry laps but I have been very fast and consistent and that gives me a lot of confidence for when we return to Jerez for the third race. This morning’s rain meant the track wasn’t in a great condition in the last two hours and I felt I could have definitely gone faster if there was more grip available. But it is the same for everybody and we came out on top, so that’s positive. Each time I tried to improve my pace at the end I came across some traffic, so I’ve no doubt I could have gone faster. It has been a positive pre-season and I think I have shown I have made another big improvement for this year. This result gives me a lot of confidence going to Qatar but my goal will be to finish in the top six and get some early momentum like I did last season. It is going to be a very exciting season and now I can’t wait to get to Qatar.”
Teammate Bradley Smith was eleventh fastest and feels he is gradually getting the hang of the YZR-M1. The rookie spent time following the illustrious riders that also ride Yamaha and says the experience gained will prove invaluable.
“The really important aspect of today was that I did eventually get some dry time on track. I was reasonably happy with my performance in the wet because it is all about building my experience of the bike and tyres in those conditions. But I was really happy the track dried because I badly need seat time and the weather has definitely not helped my preparations. I’m still searching for a base setting but we have it clear the direction we need to move in with the bike and that’s to move away from what Andrea Dovizioso used and make the bike more like how Cal has his. I’m gradually getting more comfortable and at this test I’ve followed Cal, Jorge and Valentino to get a really understanding of how the Yamaha needs to be ridden. Now I’m really looking forward to going to Qatar. I’d have preferred to have done a few more dry laps in testing but I am confident and optimistic that I can start the season with a strong result.”