Cal Crutchlow’s Monster Yamaha Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal believes it will be important for the British star to repeat the fast and positive start to he made to winter testing in 2012 when the pre-season campaign resumes at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia tomorrow (Tuesday).
Crutchlow used a brilliant pre-season testing campaign last year as a springboard to a fantastic second season in MotoGP in which he became the first British rider to score a premier class podium since 2000.
The 27-year-old claimed two podium finishes in Brno and Phillip Island and nine other top six results in a breakthrough campaign that saw him come close to signing a multi-million pound deal with Ducati’s factory squad.
French team boss Poncharal though admits 2013 is a huge year for Crutchlow, who will feature prominent in the 2014 rider market having only signed a one year extension to his Tech 3 deal.
Poncharal told MCN: “For me it is going to be very important for Cal to start the pre-season well again because 2013 is going to be a very big year for him. 2011 was a big learning year but in 2012 he showed that he can be a podium finisher and a front row qualifier.
"Now for sure he needs to make one more step and I think he needs to be doing a bit more of what Andrea (Dovizioso) did last season. He needs to keep the speed he has because that is not in doubt but maybe he needs to be more consistent.
"This is a crucial time because last year when he started so well in Sepang it gave him a lot of confidence and it was a platform that he used to have a very good year.
"It will be important for him to start 2013 as quick as he was at the end of 2012. At the end of the season he was very fast.
"He was close to the podium in Aragon, he was fighting right to the end for a rostrum in Motegi before he ran out fuel and he got on the podium in Australia. And he was very unfortunate in Valencia not to finish second.”
Poncharal also believes it will be vital for Crutchlow not to focus too much on the difference between the spec of his satellite YZR-M1 machine and the factory bikes to be raced by reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.
Yamaha is expected to roll out a new seamless shift gearbox in 2013 but there is no indication yet of when, if at all, Isle of Man-based Crutchlow will have access to the new system.
But Poncharal added: “He is aware that Yamaha is going to give him the best support it can and the best way to deal with it is not to complain but to be fast and consistent.
"Yamaha knows the level of support they are giving Cal and they can understand and analyse the performance based on that. It is important that he keeps that speed from last year but also keeping his head positive.”
For Crutchlow's exclusive thoughts from the first test of 2013 in Sepang, see the February 13 issue of Motor Cycle News.