Cal Crutchlow has tipped himself to be much more competitive in the second half of his rookie MotoGP world championship campaign in 2011.
The British rider was an impressive 11th on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 debut in Qatar last month and was fighting for a podium in a rain-hit Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez recently before he crashed out in tricky conditions.
He recovered to finish eighth but the former World Supersport champion has impressed in the opening two races having qualified higher than nine-times world Valentino Rossi in both.
But Crutchlow, who underwent recent surgery on his right arm to solve a persistent arm pump issue that has plagued him since winter testing, is expecting to pose a stronger threat in the premier class after the mid-season stage.
He told MCN: “I’ll be looking to come on strong in the second half of the year, which I’ve done throughout my whole career. I always start the season gently but last year from Millar onwards I was only about ten points behind the best in the class (World Superbikes)."
"I’m just concentrating on getting the first few races out of the way and getting more time to learn the bike. Look at (Marco) Simoncelli. He was struggling big style in the first half of last year but he came good and look at the way he’s going now.”
Crutchlow though said he was under no immediate pressure to justify his place in the star-studded MotoGP field because he has a two-year contract with Herve Poncharal’s Tech 3 outfit.
The 25-year-old added: “I’ve got a two-year deal so I’m under no real pressure but there are certain places where I will expect to go well. I’ve got a lot of new tracks to learn and there are circuits I have raced at but only once or twice."
"Misano and Assen I’ve only been to twice, so I’ve got a lot to learn and it might take me a bit more time than what it took others. But I’m under no pressure and I’ve got to do my job and come out of the first year ready and strong for 2012.”