Cal Crutchlow insists he is still unsure of his potential in the season-opening Qatar MotoGP, despite clocking a superb second place during Friday practice.

Making his competitive LCR Honda debut, the Englishman was fifth on Thursday, fourth in the opening Friday session then set a best lap just 0.096s from world champion Marc Marquez in FP3.

The next best satellite Honda or Yamaha rider was Pol Espargaro in tenth place. But with the top 16 covered by less than one second, plus some concerns over his pace on used tyres, Crutchlow remains cautious.

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"At the start of the session I was down in 18th," Crutchlow explained. "We are starting on used tyres when a lot of guys aren't. Maybe that could be one reason but I didn't expect to be 18th when two hours earlier I had no problem on the same set of tyres. It looks like we had 20-30% more [wheel] spin.

"So we're a bit miffed with that but I improved the pace in the middle of the session. I was happy, but we definitely need to improve to battle with the guys in the front. I think our second position is not relative to where we are. But I'm not complaining!"

The former World Supersport champion added: "Sure at the moment we are probably top six. But you could easily be 12th. At the moment it is so close that I really don't know. If somebody said to me, 'where do you think you'll finish if the race was now?' I couldn't give you an answer.

"I wouldn't win. Marc is definitely stronger than everyone else at the moment. How long he did on a set of tyres and the lap time he did was impressive. It was strong, but there is nobody else that can do that.

"We've tried the hard front tyre, the hard rear. We're not going to race the hard rear but we are undecided on the front at the moment. It's good that we are in the top ten and can continue to work and not worry about the extra session [Qualifying 1] whereas I spent most of last year worrying about that!

"But that's going to be a problem all year [trying to get a top ten place in practice]. The soft tyre that the Open class have got is a disaster for us because it's worth a second a lap."

Do you think you have a shot a pole tomorrow?


Will pole go to someone with the soft tyre?

"Yeah... Actually I think it will be Marc and he will be a good chunk ahead of the others that haven't got the soft tyre."

The good news for Crutchlow on day two was that a cure - or at least a workable fix - was finally found for the braking problems he has battled since Sepang. The #35 had suffered with what felt like air in the braking system, causing an inconsistent and unnerving delay when applying the brakes.

"We seemed to have solved that problem. Not completely. I went back to something that I've used previously. You reminder I had the problem [with the brakes] at Jerez with Ducati last year? We changed something after that at Ducati and now we've done the same here and it seems to have worked."

You changed a part?

"Yeah. The feeling of the lever now is not very nice compared to what everybody else uses but it's a lot better for me. At least when I brake I have something to brake against [when pulling the lever]."

Final practice and qualifying for the Qatar night race takes place at the Losail circuit on Saturday.


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Codger: Supersic........Scott will probably get quicker over the weekend too.[\blockquote]

People need to remember that he's with a new team, on a new bike, with a new crew chief, with new brakes and suspension and very little data.

0.6 off? Top notch work.[\blockquote]

Totally agree, but he's with the team and crew chief he was with in Moto 2, isn't he?