Cal Crutchlow fuelled hopes of a podium challenge in his final weekend at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 by finishing fourth quickest in Friday MotoGP practice at Valencia.

The Englishman, already confirmed as fifth and the top satellite rider in the 2013 standings, moved forwards from seventh in the morning session - although a late fall dampened his day.

"I am happy with my start to the weekend because this afternoon I made a big improvement and I felt fast and strong in FP2," said Crutchlow, who was mystified by the fall.

Related Articles

"I went round the corner slower on that lap than on the lap before - and the lap before that - and I still fell off. I was lucky that it was first gear and there was absolutely no damage to me or the bike. It was a stupid crash but we need to investigate the reason why.

"On the previous run when I opened the gas, at turns six and nine, I was losing the front and that's exactly what happened in the crash."

Crutchlow's best lap time was just 0.282s behind title leader and practice pace setter Marc Marquez, with Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo second and third.

"I am in the top four and being so close to that Spanish trio gives us a lot of confidence for the rest of the last weekend," said Crutchlow.

"We're playing around a lot with tyres. The front seems to be good but drops off immediately and the rear is better, but when you lose the grip there's no coming back and the corner speed gets lower and lower which is no good for the Yamaha.

"We tried the [new] hard tyre and it feels completely different compared to the Misano test but Bridgestone say that it's not at the optimum temperature so if it's a little hotter it might work better.

"My crew did a great job again today and this is a difficult weekend knowing I am leaving after this race. But that makes me even more determined to ensure the last race is a positive one and we can end a brilliant time together on a high."

Crutchlow, who will start his factory Ducati career in Monday's test, took four podiums in the first half of this season.

Team-mate Bradley Smith was eighth quickest.