By Stephen English

Cal Crutchlow set the pace during opening practice for the US MotoGP at Laguna Seca, but the Englishman felt afterwards that the session counted for very little given the cold and damp conditions.

"This morning was not relevant; the lap time was 1.5s off last year so we have about two seconds to gain," said the Yamaha Tech 3 rider.

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"Maybe we are the fastest in those conditions but we need to improve this afternoon and I think everyone will improve. It was a difficult session because some corners seemed wet but I was happy enough."

Crutchlow ended the session just under a tenth of a second faster than factory Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi, with rookie title leader Marc Marquez in third.

Injured reigning MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo was eleventh fastest, but Crutchlow refused to discount his rival from fighting for the podium on Sunday.

"I'm pleased that Jorge is more cautious because at Assen he was so fast immediately and at Sachsenring, so this weekend he will take some more care, but he'll definitely be there in the race and challenging for the podium."

Crutchlow has finished on the podium four times in the last five events and came within 1.6s of a debut victory last Sunday at the Sachsenring.