Cal Crutchlow will head to the first race of the new 1000cc MotoGP era in Qatar next month brimming with confidence after he ended the pre-season testing schedule with the fifth fastest time in Jerez.
The British rider’s stunning winter testing form continued when a quickest lap of 1.39.585 put him ahead of Valentino Rossi and Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Andrea Dovizioso. And he was only a fraction behind factory Yamaha rider Ben Spies in fourth.
Crutchlow, who was fifth fastest at the penultimate test at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia earlier this month, told MCN: “Fifth position has backed up my performance in Sepang and the good thing is that the Yamaha has shown at a very different track compared to Sepang that is it competitive.
"Jerez is much tighter and shorter and to be honest on the 1000 with so much power, it feels like a go-kart track. The bike obviously works well with three of us in the top five and Andrea not far behind me.
"We didn’t have anything to test other than some traction control setting that was a positive but we have worked a lot on making grip manually to tame these things at a place like this.
"I am consistent and in the top five most of the time, so it wasn’t like I was sticking my neck out at the end of the day. I’m happy to be showing Yamaha what I can do on my package and it is not as good as the factory bike, so to be not so far away, I’m happy enough.
"We will see what happens in Qatar and that is not one of my favourite places, but neither is here. It is only my second time riding here and I’m still lacking some experience. So to leave in fifth place is a good boost for my confidence.
"The lap times are consistent and the important thing is I am in the area on the timesheets where I wanted to be. Being in front of the other non-factory bikes is my target and to do that, I can’t really ask for too much more.”
For more from Crutchlow and seven pages of coverage, see the March 28 issue of MCN.