Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso spearhead the strongest Tech 3 Yamaha line-up ever in MotoGP in 2012, according to team boss Herve Poncharal.
British rider Crutchlow has been in outstanding form during winter testing and at the last two sessions in Sepang and Jerez he posted the fifth quickest time.
Dovizioso meanwhile has been impressively getting to grips with the new Yamaha YZR-M1 1000cc machine after his switch from Honda at the end of last season.
The Italian brings proven premier class pedigree to Tech 3 after he finished third in the 2011 world championship rankings while riding for Repsol Honda with Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa.
Poncharal believes his French-based squad will start the season with its strongest line-up since it joined MotoGP back in 2001.
Poncharal told MCN: “When you look at Cal’s performances in winter testing and you consider the pace and experience Andrea has, maybe this is strongest MotoGP package that Tech 3 has ever had. And with only six factory riders I think we have some good cards to play.”
Poncharal is optimistic that both Crutchlow and Dovizioso can challenge for podium finishes in 2012, though he conceded that battling Stoner and factory Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo was a huge ask.
He added: “The big question mark is how will Ducati perform. For sure you have Casey, Dani, Jorge and Ben (Spies) at the front and after that we are in that zone and we could be close to Valentino (Rossi), Nicky (Hayden) and Alvaro (Bautista).
"But we could even be fighting with Ben and Dani in some races for the podium and that has to be the target. We are certainly very optimistic that 2012 is going to be a very successful year for Cal and Andrea.”
For an exclusive interview with Crutchlow in a special 16-page guide to the new MotoGP campaign, see tomorrow’s (April 4) issue of MCN.