Cal Crutchlow had good reason to crack jokes and be all smiles about his potential in the first MotoGP race of 2013 in Qatar next weekend after he topped the timesheets at the end of a rain-hit final test in Jerez.
On a greasy but dry track after mid-morning rain had disrupted the final day, Crutchlow powered his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine to a best time of 1.39.511 that put him just 0.014s clear of factory YZR-M1 rival Valentino Rossi.
That time gave the 27-year-old a massive confidence boost ahead of his flight to Doha early next week where he will kick off his third season in MotoGP looking to become a more consistent podium threat.
When asked for his thoughts on how he would shape up under the Losail International Circuit floodlights on April 7, the former World Supersport champion joked: “My goal is to win by one minute. All I can do is try my hardest but I aim to finish in the top five. If I start in the top five I will be happy. Consistency wise I’d say we are similar to Valentino and Marc (Marquez). Marc is learning but he is still phenomenally fast. He can still challenge to win at Qatar.”
The outcome of the final test proved that Crutchlow will once again be a thorn in the side of the factory elite and he said he was looking forward to the new season kicking off in the Middle East next weekend.
He said: “I’m happy with the way the testing has gone. I want a strong start and then see what we can get from Yamaha over the year because that will play a big factor with how big the gap can be to the factory guys. Here we did some decent lap times and I feel good.
I only managed 30 dry laps and over three days I only managed about 75 laps and that’s disappointing. But to be at this pace already though is good so I am happy. Qatar will be different again because it is a completely different track but I am looking forward to it after ending this test positive.
On old machinery I am very happy with how the testing has gone but if we get some upgrades it will be even better again. To be honest though I think it will be very difficult to beat the Honda at the moment. That package is really strong and if Dani (Pedrosa) was riding today, I am sure he was going to be close to the top if not at the top. But it is going to be a big battle and I am looking forward to it.
I’ve gained some experience from last year but I’ve not changed much with the bike. I would have done a decent run in the 39s but I got held up on the next three laps after my best lap. I’m pleased with progress and we can come to Jerez for the race confident.”