Cal Crutchlow was left looking for the positives from Saturday's MotoGP qualifying at Le Mans, the Englishman lining up just twelfth on the grid but pleased with progress over the course of the weekend.
Crutchlow is still adapting to life with Ducati but was pleased to have lapped faster today than he had last year on the Tech 3 Yamaha, when qualified fourth in the dry and finished second in the wet race.
"The position is really bad but I was surprised with my lap time and to be quicker than last year is a big bonus, but it's just not quick enough," said Crutchlow. "I think that in every session we've got faster and better. You have to remember that I'm coming back from one of the biggest accidents of my career not so long ago so my confidence at the minute with the bike is completely not there.
"I'm not too worried about being able to go fast in the end and be competitive, I know that in the end I can be fast, but we'll need to find the right setting for me. We are the completely opposite from Andrea [who qualified third on the grid] but when we go towards his direction I can't stop the bike at all. Maybe we can build something between the two and we'll look to do that tonight. I need to get confident and comfortable with the bike for sure."
Having made it through the Q1 session, using only one set of super-soft tyres, Crutchlow opened up on the difficulties faced by riders in the opening qualifying session where the aim is to get through to the final shootout while saving tyres for your final qualifying effort:
"Going into Q1 is one of the worst things ever for a motorbike rider because you don't push too much in the first run because you want to save a bit in your pocket but is it enough to keep in or put you out?
“I didn't want to use a second tyre so I pushed OK on the first run but then 100% on the second run. It was just enough to scrape in but when they use the second tyre they can use your time as a guideline and they know how much they can push and they can use your splits as a guide. We didn't use the second tyre, for sure if we did use it we'd go quicker like them, but it's always a risk.
"Gone are the days, at the minute, of me being able to put in a really fast lap like I used to. Normally when you give me a new set of tyres I can make a big advantage but now it's not so much. In qualifying I was quite surprised to do this time because it was a good time but it was just that the other guys were faster.
“A lot of them were following people and we did ours alone so you have to look at the positives of it and this is the fastest that I've ever been around Le Mans."
In the race Crutchlow assessed that it will be very difficult to be able to fight with the riders in front of him on the grid and when asked by Crash.net
how difficult it would be dealing with the drop off in performance from the soft tyre Crutchlow painted a bleak picture:
"For us the drop is too much at the moment but it's not because we're wearing the tyres or spinning the tyres it's just that when we lose the initial grip with the bike we seem to struggle with corner entry, the middle of the corner and corner exit. We'll improve for tomorrow and hopefully we can make a good start and be in the battle but the other guys are faster than us so we need to really up our game. "
The Englishman however was keen to stress again the importance of remembering the progress that is being made by Ducati:
"As I said you have to look at the positives and this is my first year with the Ducati and it's the fastest that I've gone around here but I can't expect to be able to compete with the other guys when I'm not comfortable and confident on the bike."