After battling electronic problems throughout his Ducati MotoGP race debut in Qatar, Cal Crutchlow suffered further issues during FP1 at Austin on Friday morning.
Transponder related problems at Losail had caused Crutchlow's Ducati to lose its location on the racetrack, meaning the wrong engine settings were applied for each corner before his Desmosedici then briefly cut-out completely at the final turn of the race.
Crutchlow revealed on Thursday that other Ducati riders had also suffered similar problems during the Losail weekend, although limited running at a recent Jerez test seemed to confirm the problem was solved.
However the Englishman was seen pushing his Ducati back down pit lane during FP1 this morning and, speaking afterwards, Crutchlow was clearly unhappy at what could have been a dangerous incident.
“There is always a problem with the bike. Something is happening. Stopping. Wasting my time in the session. Wasting my time in the race. There are too many electronics on the bike,” he declared.
“The problem [this morning] was I was in fourth gear going down the straight and the bike completely stopped. There's no shut-off system. There is no system to make the bike flash some lights or something. It just stopped. If somebody was behind me I was f**ked. So I'm not very happy. The bike stopped and that's it.”
Despite the issues, Crutchlow finished the session in seventh place, 1.7s from Honda's Marc Marquez but only 0.150s from team-mate and top Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso, in fifth.
But to say he feels there is plenty of room for improvement would be something of an understatement.
“I can't turn. Got too much understeer. I'm fighting with the bike in every corner. The bike feels really heavy to change direction. I could see clearly with Valentino [Rossi, Yamaha] in front of me that I lost 10-15km/h in one corner, where last year this was my strongest area.
“So we're definitely struggling with the normal things associated with this bike, but the braking is good and we're not too bad in acceleration. I used the harder option tyre for us [the medium compound] and everyone else at Ducati used the soft so it wasn't too bad I suppose.
“Marc is a long way ahead of everybody. Let's see. We have to improve for this afternoon and see how we get on.”
While Crutchlow was hampered by technical difficulties, team-mate Doviziso faced physical setbacks having been sick all week.
“It was a good start but like I thought because the characteristic of this track is quite particular. It is very difficult to find the line quickly and I'm quite strong about that. Last year I was fast from the beginning,” he said.
“In the braking and top speed we are quite strong, so this is positive. Still our problem is the same: The turning. I think this will be the limit and practice by practice this limit will be bigger, because everybody will be closer and faster.
“But anyway our start is good. We have to push every practice to try and stay in front. I'm quite happy about the lap time because I used the top the soft tyre until the end and the tyre was very bad when I made the best lap time.
“We have to see how the soft and hard tyres work to understand for the race. This afternoon the temperatures will be much hotter and we'll have to see how both tyres will work.
“My physical condition is really bad. On the bike it is okay, which is normal, but when the adrenaline goes away you feel all the problems. But it is like this.”
FP2 takes place this afternoon.
UPDATE: Crutchlow gave further details of the electronic problem after FP2.