Cal Crutchlow is hoping to take advantage of the special soft rear tyre only available to Ducati and the Open class competitors during this weekend's Austin MotoGP.

The Englishman ran the medium tyre compound on his way to sixth on his Ducati debut in Qatar, but the less abrasive COTA asphalt might mean he can go the distance on the softer rubber.

"I think it's going to be a difficult weekend for sure, but we might be able to take advantage of the soft tyre here," said Crutchlow on Thursday. "We'll see. Hopefully it will be possible for us to run the soft tyre because I think with this kind of circuit, there's not big wear on the tyre."

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The Factory class riders from Yamaha and Honda will have medium and hard rear tyre compounds to choose from.

Crutchlow claimed fourth place as a Tech 3 Yamaha rider in last year's inaugural Austin round, finishing just three seconds from the top M1 of Jorge Lorenzo - and beating Valentino Rossi - despite the official riders benefiting from a pre-season test.

"I felt last year here was probably one of the better races," said Crutchlow. "We hadn't been testing here whereas the other guys had two or three days. My back was against the wall and it turned out to be a good race for us.

"This year might be a bit different. If I have that strong a race again I might retire like Colin!" he joked.

Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso finished seventh for Ducati in Austin last year.

"I'm really happy to race in Austin. It's a really nice track to come to. Last year was quite good for us. For sure it will be very difficult, the competitors are really strong, but I hope to make a good weekend. I also hope to be in a good physical condition because I've been sick since Sunday."

Free practice takes place on Friday.