Just a few months ago Cal Crutchlow would have laughed at the suggestion he would be within six seconds of Valentino Rossi and victory on the last lap of a MotoGP race.

The Englishman endured a nightmare first half of the season at Ducati, but began to find his feet after the summer break, most notably with a debut podium at Aragon.

Crutchlow was again looking competitive at Motegi, only to fall early in the race. He then put the 'original' spec GP14 - team-mate Andrea Dovizioso uses the GP14.2 - on the front row at Phillip Island, starting the last lap of the race in second place behind Rossi.

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Unfortunately for Crutchlow - then the highest placed rider on the new asymmetric front tyre - he was caught out by the cool conditions and fell with just a few kilometres to go. The mistake moved Jorge Lorenzo into second place and Bradley Smith onto the podium in third.

"Obviously very disappointed," said Crutchlow at Sepang on Thursday. "I made a mistake on the last lap and crashed. I've already said congratulations to Bradley and sorry to Vale, because I lost him four points in the championship to Jorge.

"I believe it was just a risk with what tyre we choose - and I choose the wrong tyre."

Crutchlow, who agreed a split from Ducati during the summer break, admits he couldn't have imagined such a turnaround.

"Before the summer break, if I thought I was going to finish five or six seconds to Vale around Phillip Island, I would have laughed," he said. "So I believe we've really turned the season around. I haven't finished the last two races though and you still need to finish the race.

"I knew in Motegi I had the pace as well so I was disappointed with that mistake and now at Phillip Island I was closer again, but made another mistake. This is racing, this is life."

Asked about the chances of a repeat performance at Sepang, Crutchlow joked: "I can definitely repeat the crashes that's for sure! It's quite easy to do that. To repeat the results is more difficult!

"But we had a not-so-bad test here at the start of the year. I will work on the setting we had on the bike in Australia, try that to start, and hopefully we can start the weekend strong because I think that is key.

"If you have a good start to the weekend then you carry the momentum for the rest of the weekend."

Crutchlow has just two more races left with Ducati before joining the LCR Honda team.