British rider Cal Crutchlow has played down his chances of breaking his MotoGP podium duck in Germany this weekend.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider believes his lack of experience at the tight and twisty Sachsenring track will count against more than the recovering left ankle he broke during practice for his home race at Silverstone last month.
Crutchlow has come from last into the top six in Silverstone and Assen and shown the pace fast enough to have put him in contention for a podium.
The 26-year-old has only raced at Sachsenring once previously and in 2011 he struggled to a lowly 14th place finish and was almost 40 seconds behind race winner Dani Pedrosa.
The former World Supersport champion told MCN: “I think here and Mugello is going to be really tough for me because I don’t know the circuit that well. I had s**t races in both last year and at a place like this experience pays off.
"I said at the start of the year I’d be happy not to finish last at every race but now if I aim for the top six I am still happy enough because these races now are difficult for me having only been to them once before. I know my place and I know where I should be but you are battling against world champions.
"You can’t give 10 years experience away on one track against this level of competition. I knew Assen and I knew Silverstone and we had good possibilities of the podium but there will be other chances later in the season.
"I’m not hung up on the whole podium thing and I think we are doing a good enough job as it is. I have showed in practice, qualifying and the races that we have been very close to being the top privateer bike.
"If we had sat down at the start of the year you’d have asked me if I was expecting to finish in the top 10 and now you are asking me about finishing in the top three, so that’s a sign of how progress we have made.”
Crutchlow said the fact that the Sachsenring layout is dominated by left-hand corners was not going to be an issue for his ankle.
He said this weekend would probably be a less physically demanding experience than Silverstone and Assen and he added: “It is actually worse on right-handers because when you have got to push on the outside peg it is worse for me.
"It might sound stupid but left-handers are better because you push on the outside peg normally. I’m cautious of it but it is not a massive hindrance where it is bothering me that much.”
Crutchlow is still using an air boot to stop him from rolling over on the ankle and further damaging ligaments but he is no longer needing the aid of crutches to move around the paddock.
He added: “It is coming a lot better. I can walk on it but I need to keep the air boot on for another month because if I rolled over on my ankle that would wreck the whole thing again.
"The bone inside is still broken and the last time I went for a scan it hadn’t made a massive difference with the healing but the ligaments are getting better. I can’t walk like I would normally walk because the ligaments are quite tight.”