All things considered, Cal Crutchlow was “optimistic” after setting the tenth fastest time on day one of MotoGP testing at Sepang.
In the wake of getting used to riding a racing motorcycle after a two-month winter break, integrating two new faces into his team and coping with adapting his 2015 machine to new electronics and tyres, the Englishman knows a vast window for improvement still exists.
Having gracefully accepted the fact that Honda only has new engines for Repsol riders Marc Marqeuz and Dani Pedrosa this week, Crutchlow feels his current package is only operating at 30 percent of its potential and knows there is more to come after enduring “a bad feeling."
“I had quite a bad feeling all day with the package; the bike, the electronics, everything,” said Crutchlow. “I'm actually quite optimistic because I know a few of the other guys didn't have too bad a feeling.
“I would say in the moment we are probably around 30 percent of our potential. We can improve a lot. It's good to be back out on the track. It's good for me and good for the fans to see some racing again. I look forward to the next couple of days.”
Now operating in Lucio Cecchinello's one-man team, Crutchlow spent the day familiarising himself with the working methods of two new additions to the HRC-backed outfit.
Arlan Holterman comes in from Ten Kate Honda's World Superbike effort, while Marco Barbiani makes the step up from Team Italia's Moto3 squad to aid the adaption to Magneti Marelli's new spec software.
Crutchlow, the scorer of one premier class podium in 2015, was pleased with their initial feedback.
“It was nice to finally be back on the Honda. The team worked well. We have two new electronics guys this year. One is the electronics guy, one is the data guy. Learning the MotoGP bike is different for them. They're fitting in quite well and we're pleased with the initial feedback from them.
“One of the guys has a very difficult job at the moment because everything with the new electronics is really strange. It's difficult for all of us. The system working with the Honda is also quite difficult.
“Honestly speaking I haven't ridden a motorcycle [in the off-season]. I did about four laps on a motocross bike the whole winter. The rest of the time I rode my bicycle. It felt a little strange to start with. I'm sure the body will feel a little strange in the morning but I enjoyed it. It was good fun to get back out there.”
One of the more vocal critics of the tyres Michelin brought to the post-race test in Valencia, Crutchlow praised the French firm's work over the winter, and developed a particular liking for its harder front compound.
“Michelin is working well. I think it's really difficult because we're all so used to riding last year's tyre. It [Bridgestone] was the tyre for many years around here. The feedback we are giving is in comparison to that.
“I tried the harder front tyre in the end and I felt quite a good advantage with it. They are working very well and very hard for all of us. It's difficult when we all give such different feedback. But yeah, it's working well.”