Cal Crutchlow took the new Open configuration Ducati Desmosedici to the second fastest lap time, during day one of the Phillip Island MotoGP tyre test.
Riding alongside the official Yamaha and Honda teams, who are remaining in the Factory class, the Englishman and his Open class software set a best lap time just 0.363s from Jorge Lorenzo.
“The Ducati seems to be going well here. It's going a lot better than at Sepang. We made some small setting changes and it seems to be better every time we go out,” Crutchlow told the official MotoGP website.
But the main focus is tyre testing for Bridgestone, to avoid a repeat of last year's compulsory bike swaps. Crutchlow found himself hanging on after some big moments with some of the experimental constructions.
“We used the tyre that we used in the race and had no problem with it. Then we started to test the new tyres after lunch,” he said.
“We had the construction difference and two other guys tried the rubber difference. Trust me the construction difference is a lot worse - I nearly went over the handlebars twelve times in five laps! There was no grip at all!
“At least Bridgestone have that information. We went back to the normal tyre again and it felt better. These things happen when you test tyres. In the end it went not too bad.”
While the Honda and Yamaha riders were not able to beat their best laps from the October race, Crutchlow was quicker than the fastest Ducati lap, by predecessor Nicky Hayden.
Unlike Crutchlow, pace setter Lorenzo was trying the new tyre compounds and declared one of them to be better than the 2013 race tyre. “Tomorrow we'll swap around [and test compounds rather than constructions] and maybe it's better,” confirmed Crutchlow.
Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso was the last of the nine MotoGP/Moto2 riders present to take to the track due to a fever. The Italian went on to complete 60 laps and, although slowest of the premier-class riders, was only 0.752s behind test leader Lorenzo.
“It's early but the feeling with the tyres they've brought is good. We still don't know the tyre life, but we will find out with the next two days,” Dovizioso commented.
In return for using the shared software, Open class riders enjoy more race fuel, engine changes and no ban on in-season engine development. They also have a softer specification of rear tyre relative to the Factory class, although Gigi Dall'Igna stated at Sepang that Ducati was unlikely to try the softer tyre until the opening round in Qatar.