MotoGP rookie Cal Crutchlow produced the surprise of Monday's official Estoril test when he slashed nearly two-seconds from his best race lap to claim fourth place on the timesheets.
The Englishman was only 0.6sec slower than test pace setter Marco Simoncelli (Gresini Honda) as he outpaced the likes of Valentino Rossi and his own experienced Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Colin Edwards.
The secret to Crutchlow's success, at a track where he matched his best MotoGP finish of eighth in Sunday's race, was a modified handlebar position and wheelbase.
Only Simoncelli, Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner were able to lap faster than Crutchlow, who completed 71-laps.
“Today was really positive and I can't really ask for much more than finishing fourth quickest with only three of the fastest riders in the world in front of me,” smiled Cal.
“I was able to lap nearly two seconds faster than I did in the race, but I was quietly confident that the changes we planned to make for today would mean I could go a lot faster.”
The former World Supersport champion and World Superbike race winner explained that the unpredictable weather meant he couldn't risk trying the modifications during the race weekend,
“Losing so much track time because of the weather at the weekend meant I couldn't risk taking a gamble on making too many changes for the race,” he said.
Crutchlow, like many riders, set his fastest time while trying the 2012 Bridgestone tyres.
“I honestly didn't expect to break into the 36s but I felt comfortable and even with 25-laps on the same set of tyres I was doing low to mid-37s," he said.
“I know everyone goes faster in a test but my time today was faster than Dani Pedrosa's best lap in the race and he won, so my pace bodes well for the future.