Cal Crutchlow’s Yamaha M1 satellite bike may be behind the factory’s team with chassis development (apparently Tech3 is 3 steps behind) but he did receive some electronics update after the Sepang test, but having a bike that is basically the same as the 2012 version and the fact that the Japanese manufacturer had promised but has yet to deliver more updates, pushed the British rider to show what he can do with an outdated machine.
Crutchlow grabbed the top spot during yesterday’s final test day at Jerez and putting both Yamaha factory riders behind him, with a best lap of 1:39.511, which also surprised Valentino Rossi who said that Crutchlow has always been fast at Jerez because SBK riders usually have more trouble at Jerez, but the track conditions obviously suited the Brit who was also fast on Sunday and not only on a hot lap.
“It is obviously very satisfying to finish the test with the fastest time because it shows what a really good job I did and what a great job my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team did too. It is a shame we didn’t get the chance to get in a lot more dry laps but I have been very fast and consistent and that gives me a lot of confidence for when we return to Jerez for the third race. This morning’s rain meant the track wasn’t in a great condition in the last two hours and I felt I could have definitely gone faster if there was more grip available. But it is the same for everybody and we came out on top, so that’s positive. Each time I tried to improve my pace at the end I came across some traffic, so I’ve no doubt I could have gone faster. It has been a positive pre-season and I think I have shown I have made another big improvement for this year. This result gives me a lot of confidence going to Qatar but my goal will be to finish in the top six and get some early momentum like I did last season. It is going to be a very exciting season and now I can’t wait to get to Qatar,” said Crutchlow.
Bradley Smith is struggling more than the two other MotoGP rookies Marc Marquez and Andrea Iannone in adapting to MotoGP prototypes, and has yet to find a good base set-up, but he believes that he has to follow Crutchlow’s set-up rather than Andrea Dovizioso’s who finshed fourth overall last season for Tech3 with six third place podiums.
“The really important aspect of today was that I did eventually get some dry time on track. I was reasonably happy with my performance in the wet because it is all about building my experience of the bike and tyres in those conditions. But I was really happy the track dried because I badly need seat time and the weather has definitely not helped my preparations. I’m still searching for a base setting but we have it clear the direction we need to move in with the bike and that’s to move away from what Andrea Dovizioso used and make the bike more like how Cal has his. I’m gradually getting more comfortable and at this test I’ve followed Cal, Jorge and Valentino to get a really understanding of how the Yamaha needs to be ridden. Now I’m really looking forward to going to Qatar. I’d have preferred to have done a few more dry laps in testing but I am confident and optimistic that I can start the season with a strong result,” said the Yamaha Tech3 rookie.