After a tough start to last week's Sepang test, MotoGP rookie Cal Crutchlow rebuilt his confidence with a stronger final day performance.
The week began badly when the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider suffered a nasty bout of food poisoning on the way to Malaysia, leaving him physically weak for the entire second test of 2011.
The Englishman then suffered two crashes on day one, followed by a demoralising 18th (out of 19 riders) on day two, when Crutchlow admits he was “wasting fuel”.
But set-up changes and riding-style refinements began to fall into place on the final day, when Crutchlow set his best ever Sepang lap and claimed 14th on the timesheets.
In the process the former World Supersport champion and Yamaha's only 2010 World Superbike race winner finished ahead of three contracted MotoGP riders: Randy de Puniet (Ducati), Toni Elias (Honda) and Karel Abraham (Ducati).
“A 2min 2.0sec was not too bad considering Valentino's fastest race lap last year, on his way to winning was a 2min 2.1sec,” Crutchlow told Crash.net
. “Testing is different of course, but at least it gives you a feel for how fast the race pace is around here.
“Today a lot of guys set their best lap times in the morning again, when it's cooler, and some of them had tows as well.
“I went out and built up confidence after a bad day. I have no shame in saying I was riding around wasting fuel yesterday. I'd crashed the evening before and was busting my balls to do 2min 3sec and 2min 4sec.
“But then today, after 30 laps on the tyre and in the midday heat, we were still doing 2min 2sec. Consistently. We're still 2.3sec off first, but we're only 1.3sec off Ben [Spies, top Yamaha] in fifth.
“That's a lot better, but we've still got a long way to go. I'd say I'm 50 percent there.”
Crutchlow then explained some of the changes that had helped him climb back up the order, and where he thinks the remaining time is being lost.