Cal Crutchlow says he must improve his performance in the opening laps in MotoGP after he returned to the top six in Mugello yesterday.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider bemoaned his pace on a full fuel load and also pledged to improve his starts after another poor launch off the line at the start of the 23-lap clash.
Crutchlow fought his way back into sixth and was only 1.4s off team-mate Andrea Dovizioso in third at the chequered flag but his hopes of breaking his premier class podium duck unravelled in the early stages.
He was only ninth at the end of the first lap and at the halfway stage of the race he was over six seconds behind the battle involving Dovizioso and Stefan Bradl for third.
Crutchlow latched onto the back of Valentino Rossi’s factory Ducati for the second half of the race but couldn’t force the Italian legend into an error.
And the former World Supersport champion told MCN: “My main concern now is to be pole at every race because my starts are that s**t I might as well start at the back of the grid.
"It was a disaster start but our main problem is the bike on the full fuel load. I’m really struggling with that.
"When we are braking we can’t stop. In practice and qualifying we can but it seems when I am with people I can’t do it. The only place I finished really close to the front is Jerez and if you look at that race the first six laps when the fuel was going down we were cruising round through some damp patches.
"But when these guys push at the start I just run wide everywhere. Ben (Spies) looks the same and so does Valentino because as the race went on we got faster.”
Crutchlow was happy to return to the top six for the seventh time in 2012 after he passed Nicky Hayden’s factory Ducati at the final corner and he paid tribute to Rossi after the nine-times world champion kept him at bay from the third lap.
Crutchlow added: “It was an amazing race by Valentino to keep pushing like that and staying so consistent. He lifted me up in one corner. I ran a bit wide and thought I might tip in but if I had tipped then it would have been like (Marc) Marquez and (Pol) Espargaro in Catalunya and both of us would have crashed and both of us would have blamed each other.
"He rode well to pull that time back. I did a job on Nicky at the end, which we needed to do. I think I was eight seconds back after four laps so to come back to that I’m really happy.
"I did five laps in the race last year and now I’ve finished sixth and only one second off the podium. How Rossi rode just shows the skill he has and I can tell you he hasn’t lost it. His bike was very fast but I couldn’t even slipstream it.
"I was faster in the last sector and could have passed him but he would have passed me back down the straight. We’d have just ended up taking time out of each other and Valentino is never going to give in. I didn’t feel I had enough speed to breakaway from him but I was happy enough.
"I had planned to pass him at the last corner on the last couple of laps but with what happened with Nicky and Bradl completely screwed it up. He went by Nicky and I didn’t but I passed Nicky at the last corner where I was so strong all weekend.
"People might think I am coming away from here disappointed but at the end of the day I still finished a second off the podium and that is really close.”
For seven pages of coverage from Mugello, see the July 18 issue of MCN.