Cal Crutchlow hopes to make a further leap forward in 2013 to bridge the gap to MotoGP frontrunners Jorge Lorenzo
and Dani Pedrosa.
The 27-year-old was in strong form last year on the Tech 3 Yamaha, claiming a brace of rostrum finishes on the satellite M1 at Brno and Phillip Island to become the first British rider to achieve the feat since Jeremy McWilliams
12 years previously.
However, the Coventry rider – who is joined in an all-British line-up by Bradley Smith in Herve Poncharal's outfit – expects the competition to be tougher in 2013.
“I really don't know what equipment our team will get this year. The championship is definitely going to be tougher,” Crutchlow told BBC Sport
“But hopefully I can be consistent and get a few podiums. That's the plan.”
Crutchlow, who finished seventh overall last year, has tipped Pedrosa's Repsol Honda team-mate Marc Marquez to be challenging at the front in his rookie season and also expects Stefan Bradl to up his level after an impressive debut.
And the ex-World Supersport champion is in no doubt Valentino Rossi
will be a regular top-three finisher after the seven-times MotoGP champion's move back to Yamaha alongside reigning champ Lorenzo on the factory M1s.
“We've got some great guys out there this season,” Crutchlow said.
“The top two will be Jorge and Dani Pedrosa
again, without a shadow of a doubt. They will be there week in and week out.
“I expect Marquez and Stefan Bradl to be there, and Rossi will be among the top three a lot. There is a list of people who could be on the podium every race so I expect the competition to be tough.
“I hope to be challenging the top guys when I can. Hopefully we can do the all-British team justice,” he added.
“But I've proven my speed and if I can improve again like last season and make that jump again, I can be even nearer to the front. I look forward to the challenge.”