Cal Crutchlow has likened his situation with Michelin's front tyres at the Qatar MotoGP test to being 'between a rock and a hard place', after finding it difficult to get either the softer or harder compound to work on Wednesday.
Eighth fastest on the first night of the final preseason MotoGP test of 2016, Crutchlow fell due to getting too much heat into the front rubber on Wednesday evening, which led to a 'bouncing' feeling.
The Englishman has Honda's latest spec engine for the first time, a component that, with the spec electronics, is a marked improvement than what he was using in Sepang and Phillip Island.
Yet it was his sensation with the front end that held him back, with the soft tyre limiting the machine's turning abilities and the harder not inspiring any confidence while braking upright.
“We just got too much heat into the front tyre. I crashed in Australia with the front because it was freezing cold and it was a really hard front tyre. But here it's completely different. We can't brake with the angle. As soon as we're braking we're giving honestly it feels towards half the pressure going towards the corner.
“We're locking the front in a straight line going into the corner. Then the bike doesn't turn. They're way too soft for our bike. But the problem is you use the hard front tyre and then you crash in a straight line, because they're too hard, like in Australia for this condition. We're between a rock and a hard place with that at this moment.
As Repsol Honda mounted Marc Marquez complained of issues on corner exit, Crutchlow said he wasn't encountering the same problems, while insisting the Spaniard was encountering similar issues to his own.
“I don't really have that because I have a bit of a different style in the middle of the corner. The locking he has the same, I'm sure. He says he doesn't have the locking but I can see he does. Some things he will feel, some things I will feel. I don't feel that I have a problem on the exit of the corner.
“Generally we have the same sort of issues at the front of the bike. I don't think it's to do with the new engine. We know the chassis is the same. You can put it down to the front tyre but we know we can't use the hard front tyre and we can't use the soft. What can we do?”
Commenting on Honda's new engine, Crutchlow continued, “Genuinely I am pleased enough with the 2016 version engine. We need to work in some areas sure. It's working a lot better with the electronics as well. Our main issue was the electronics but we knew they were working more with the [latest] '16 version and the electronics. I've been quite impressed with how that's worked.
“I pushed a little. The lap I crashed, I wasn't pushing hard but I was about half a second faster than my previous lap. We crashed because you're going into every corner bouncing the front tyre a lot because the front is too hot. We need to fix this because this was only four laps into a run. 22 laps is going to be more difficult.”
Asked whether he felt he and Honda would be ready for the new season come the first round in Qatar, Crutchlow admitted that – such are HRC's limitations compared to its competitors - 2016 could be a year where he measures his results against riders from the same manufacturer.
“I don't know. I'm not looking at everyone around me. I'm looking at my factory guys and that's all I can do. You think Hector Barbera is faster than Marc Marquez? I don't. At the first race I think it'll be similar. I have to race against my guys. We know Jack and Tito are on the same as us and we're ahead of them. What more can I do?
“It could be a year of that. I don't know. Maybe you're not even looking at the result. Maybe it could be looking at other guys riding your manufacturer because at the moment we know the competitors. I'm not saying they're in better shape as us. If you look at the results I can tell you that these guys are not faster than Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.”