Cal Crutchlow carried his promising Sepang form over into day one of the final pre-season MotoGP test at Jerez, setting the fifth fastest lap time to be the top satellite rider and within one-second of Casey Stoner (Honda).
Evaluating different set-up options to improve stability on acceleration, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider's best time was less than 0.2s behind factory Yamaha rider Ben Spies.
Having made only one previous visit to the Jerez track in his career, Crutchlow completed a marathon stint of 74-laps to build-up his experience of the circuit.
“Today was a positive start to the test and important for me to carry on the momentum we gained in Sepang,” he said. “I did a lot of laps but I have to do that because this is only my second time at this track and I need to gain some experience so I am in the best shape possible when we return for the race next month.
“We have made really good progress with the set-up of the bike today and it is good that we have come to a completely different style track compared to Sepang and the bike is working well. We are always looking to improve and the bike is still a bit of a handful to manage exiting the corner, but a real positive is that I did my best time today on the hard rear tyre.
“Last year on the 800 I could never really use the hard tyre, so I'm pleased about that because today I only did five laps on the soft tyre. Another big plus is my consistency. We talked about improving that over the winter and I've definitely improved in doing more constant times, so it has been a really productive start to the test.”
Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, who had been the top M1 rider at the end of Sepang testing, was eighth quickest on the day of his 26th birthday. The Italian struggled somewhat with set-up issues and a stomach bug.
“I was really looking forward to starting this test today because it is a very important three days for me. It is my birthday too and I was looking forward to gaining more experience with the Yamaha,” he began.
“This morning though was not easy because I didn't have the same good feeling with the bike as I did at the last test in Sepang. Thanks to my crew we found a much better setting but unfortunately I wasn't able to exploit it because of my physical condition.
“I had some problem with my stomach and I had zero energy and I am sorry I could only make 46-laps.
“The most positive point of the day was some new electronics I tried which helped stability exiting the corner. But we can still improve more in this area. I am not worried about the gap to the front because I didn't feel in a good enough physical condition to push hard.”