Cal Crutchlow was unmoved by his qualifying performance at Aragon as he put his LCR Honda on the middle of the third row after posting the eighth fastest time on Saturday afternoon.
The Englishman endured a “terrible day” on Friday after he placed outside the top ten but was instantly up to speed a day later, finishing FP3 in sixth.
Although tenth in FP4 – usually a reliable indicator of race potential -, Crutchlow feels he can enjoy a strong race showing if he finds improvements in the first sector, with turns three and five posing particular problems when turning his RC213V.
“Eighth is still not where we want to be, obviously,” said the 29-year old. “We gain two tenths, then you are at the front of the second row. So we're not too far away from Dani [Pedrosa], but our overall pace, we need to improve. Some of the guys who qualified in the top twelve will be two seconds a lap slower than Marc Marquez every lap of the race tomorrow. It's difficult to gauge off one lap.
“We improved, sure, from yesterday, but we still have to improve, especially in sector one. We'll look this afternoon, because Dani in FP4 was really, really strong. He used a tire from the morning, and he did his fastest lap on the last lap, and it was a really fast lap. So we need see his data, because he's really good in the first sector for the consistency, and we're quite far off there. So I think we can improve there, and once we do that, I think that's half the battle.”
“I think actually it's me lacking in the first sector, not just the bike. We need to be able to turn the bike, I am having trouble getting the bike to turn in into Turn three, and struggling to turn the bike into Turn five. All the fast places, like Turn two, Turn four, I'm as fast as Marc and Dani. Our bike is really good at braking on the angle and that decelerates our bike quite a lot.
“We need to look in depth quite a lot more, and then we can try to work on some things. But I think some guys put in one good first sector, so it does make us look really shit, but on average, we need to gain a couple of tenths in that sector first of all, and then work in some other areas. But I think we're OK, I'm happy enough, I'm not ecstatic but I'm not pissed off.”
Crutchlow is likely to run the medium compound rear tyre as the harder compound, which he ran in FP4, suffered from too much of a drop in grip.
“I think I was the only rider to try the hard in FP4. It dropped too much for me. The soft really drops, but you don't lose the advantage that you lose when the hard drops, so I think all the riders are planning to use the soft.”
Asked to explain how he improved from Friday to Saturday, Crutchlow continued, "I can't blame the bike because I'm very politically correct! We know the package this year is more difficult this year than last year. As a rider, you are always looking to yourself to improve, before you actually try to improve the bike. I think that we need to continue to carry on and improve both.
"The circuits we are going to, it's the first year I've been on them with the Honda. If you look at the past, every year I went back with the Yamaha, I got faster. Maybe next year I'll be faster again and faster again. Problem is, everyone else will be faster as well! We have to continue to work, me as well as the bike. But we are at a bit of a limit with our package as well."