Cal Crutchlow says he will be happy with another top five finish in the first MotoGP race to take place at the spectacular and challenging Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Texas on Sunday.
The British rider battled for the podium for the majority of enthralling season opener in Qatar earlier this month before a mistake left him in fifth place behind factory quartet Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.
This weekend’s COTA clash will be another uphill battle for Crutchlow, with Lorenzo, Rossi, Marquez and Pedrosa all testing at the Texas track last month.
All have said that the test session gives them a clear advantage and Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Crutchlow said it would be impossible to try and fight for the victory in Sunday’s race, which is the second of 18 races on the 2013 MotoGP calendar.
The former World Supersport champion said: “My aim for the first race was to come away in the top six and we had an ok race and finished fifth. I’m happy to challenge those guys but Jorge was phenomenal at the front and with Valentino coming from the back it shows the potential of the bike. You can’t give anything away to the best riders in the world and when you’ve missed three days it is obviously difficult. But my aim is to be the best of the rest and learn, taking time and being patient and not expecting too much.
I’m not going to win the race that is quite clear but I will hope to win it. The front five or six are on the limit as it is and if you’ve lost three days of track time it is near on impossible to come here and compete at the front but if I can salvage a good result and improve each day I’ll be very happy. Getting out of here with some good points will be the key.”
With Yamaha’s open policy on data sharing, Crutchlow will at least have access to data that Rossi and Lorenzo gathered during a two-day stint at COTA in mid-March.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team boss Herve Poncharal told MCN: “On paper we are here with a big handicap because we didn’t test but we have all the data from the factory team, so we have the gearbox and some information that will show us the lines that Jorge and Valentino were using, so clearly we can learn a lot from what Yamaha is going to give us. Cal and Bradley are both fast learners and while we have a handicap it is up to us to make it as small as possible.”
Crutchlow said the guidance and help from Yamaha’s factory team would be a bonus but it would be up to him to learn the secrets of COTA for himself.
He added: “I have got the gearbox ratios and the circuit map and the plan of what they did at the test but it makes no difference. It is not about knowing what gear to be in, it is about riding around the track. No matter what data you have it doesn't mean you'll go around the corner that fast until you have done some laps.”