Cal Crutchlow completed an encouraging first day of the official MotoGP test at Valencia in Spain to finish sixth fastest on the LCR Honda.
Running the new Michelin tyres, Crutchlow suffered a small crash at turn 5 after heading the times and clocked a lap in 1m 31.911s as he finished three tenths down on the factory Repsol Honda of Marc Marquez.
The British rider did not have as much time to devote to working on the set-up of his RCV on Tuesday after testing some parts from Honda, but Crutchlow is happy overall with the progress he made and has praised Michelin's efforts after the firm took over from Bridgestone as MotoGP's official tyre supplier.
“I'm happy enough and quite pleased with the things we tested today and overall I'm happy; I had a small crash but really it was my own fault and I pushed quite hard in that lap and made a small mistake,” he said.
“Overall, I'm pretty happy to go through some things today and the lap times came pretty easy and I'm confident I can improve tomorrow. We've been impressed with the way Michelin have been working with us; I don't think it's easy to come in and they are learning as much as they can and we are trying to give them the best feedback we can give them to improve.
“I had different sets of brakes here to try today that Honda wanted us to try and we did; sometimes you have to do these things and today we couldn't concentrate too much on setting but we tried the Nissin brakes, which was difficult to do at the time,” Crutchlow said.
“It was a quite a strange feeling with the brake lever today but we're happy enough that we did our stuff for Honda that we needed to.”
Crutchlow experimented with Marquez's setting on his Honda but ruled it out as a viable option, saying he was unable to benefit in any meaningful way.
“At the end of the day we tried a different setting that I have already tried this year once before at Barcelona and I didn't particularly think there was many positives from it then and I don't think there are many now,” he said.
“It was Marc's setting and there are positives for him but there's not positives for many of the other riders. But it clarifies to people that there's not really much difference to what he's got anyway; they [Repsol riders] have some things that are different and we saw from the weekend with the Tech 3 bike and the Yamaha that there wasn't much between them and there's not much between mine and Dani's [Pedrosa] bike, but Marc has a different setting, we tried it and I don't think it's a big benefit to me.
“We have a lot of other stuff we can do tomorrow; I'm running what I was running at the weekend [electronics] and we've got 'old' engines, so I haven't discussed with Honda when we will test anything else and the plan is to stick with what we have for now,” added Crutchlow.
“We'll do the material tests and also the small changes that we want to do with the setting of our bike because maybe we'll start next year with this setting and that's a really, really likely thing that this will happen.
“I know with the other manufacturers that they take the factory bikes out of the garage and put it in the satellite garage in the evening, but as we know that's not going to make so much difference with Honda.
“We'll see what the plan is and we'll discuss with Honda how their test was with regard to the engine and the electronics.”
Crutchlow pointed out that although the Michelin rear tyre offered improved grip, it was also the same for the Yamaha riders, therefore ensuring the disadvantage in rear traction compared to his rivals on the YZR-M1 remained unaltered.
“Sure [rear grip gives more drive] but as I said earlier on, for Honda we have more grip but so do Yamaha; if you get a set of tyres and shove them in two different bikes and they already had more grip anyway, they'll have again some more [extra] grip, so we'll need to find mechanical grip again to be able to be competitive in that area,” he explained.
“So it's not benefitting us any more; it's a step in the right direction, but we also need to find it with our bikes and not just in the tyres.”
Crutchlow said it was clear Michelin still has some way to go given the number of fallers on the opening day of the two-day test and feels the MotoGP riders need to work collectively to give the best feedback possible.
“Today was about testing a few parts for them [Honda] and getting used to the tyre a little bit and seeing the limit; Marc found it in three laps and I found it in eight laps,” he said.
“Michelin is doing a great job coming here with 24 riders that have rode Bridgestones all year and all weekend. I made a comment earlier on in the year that no-one was changing their bike settings towards the Michelins and also their riding style, but I think they are now and I think we all need to work together.
“There's not so much difference [in tyres since Aragon test] and I think we've seen today that there's not a massive improvement. It's a difficult circuit to get right, but you don't see that many crashes on a test ever,” he added.
“I think over the whole race weekend I think there was only four crashes, maybe five, but we'll see and they're doing a good job and we'll give them all the information we can to help out.”