By Stephen English
Following Cal Crutchlow's superb fourth position at Jerez on Sunday, where the Englishman was just 2.5s behind race winner Casey Stoner, the Tech 3 Yamaha rider is now firmly on the radar of MotoGP's leading riders.
When asked following a tense Spanish Grand Prix who else he expected to challenge for the podium in the coming races, Jerez runner-up Jorge Lorenzo tipped Crutchlow as among the leading contenders.
“The 1000cc gives more opportunities to riders like Cal who is more comfortable on it,” said Yamaha's 2010 champion.
“He is more aggressive and can push on mistakes with it, whereas with the 800cc if you brake too late you can lose half a second with a mistake, with the 1000 maybe a tenth.
“Cal has done two great races and with the 1000 he seems faster.”
Having battled throughout the race with Crutchlow, and narrowly pipped him to the podium, Dani Pedrosa was best placed to discuss the evolution of the former World Supersport champion in his second year of grand prix racing.
The Spaniard commented that, “Looking at the results, really Cal has made the biggest step [from last year]. But still Andrea [Dovizioso] is also close and Nicky [Hayden] is doing well on the Ducati.”
Crutchlow, twelfth in last year's championship, has finished fourth and the top satellite rider in both races so far this year.