Cal Crutchlow believes his true race pace was not reflected in a seventh place qualifying position, meaning he will have to adapt a ruthless approach at the beginning of Sunday's 28-lap MotoGP encounter at Misano.
“I'm going to have to go banzai in the opening laps,” joked the Englishman at the close of a day that saw him fall in FP3, set a strong pace in FP4, and qualify behind two factory Ducatis, both of whom he is confident of outpacing on Sunday.
“Today was so so,” said the Englishman, three times a podium finisher in the past four outings, performances that included a famous first win in Brno, and an impressive home second place at Silverstone.
“I'm happy enough. I'm disappointed to be off the second row with a wildcard in front of me. Nowhere all weekend and suddenly he's able to do a good lap time around here. I'm disappointed that I didn't follow anyone. But I never follow anyone.
“I'm a bit disappointed but it's not been a bad weekend so far. My pace in FP3 was good. My pace in FP4 was good overall. I made some mistakes in qualifying. The third sector, was slower than one when I was using a 22-lap old tyre, in FP4. It shows that we don't have a good pace.
“We're not fast-fast over three laps. We're fast over 18. I know the race is 28. But over that distance I know we're strong. The problem is to pass around here is difficult. We've got no speed on the exit of the corners. I'm going to have to go banzai in the opening laps!”
One concern Crutchlow has ahead of race day is the feel offered by Michelin's medium front tyre compound, which is new for this weekend. Brought in with a new casing designed to reduce temperatures, the Englishman feels it offers less edge grip, while he only experiences minor gains in braking stability.
“Every time they use this hard [brand new] front tyre that they brought here this weekend I have these really tiny crashes. Marc also had one yesterday. That tyre that I've crashed on, that Marc's using and Maverick's using, that Vale and Jorge tried in FP4 and took right off, I was one of the only guys to use it in Malaysia. And it was OK there but here…
“I don't know if it's because it is super hot. There's no side grip on it, under 60kph, as soon as you start to open the throttle. Evidently it's not working great. The problem is I'm going to have to use it for the race because the other one is too soft.
“They brought a tyre here that we used at Silverstone. There's a bit of a difference. Sure, one is heat protected because there is some problem with the temperature. But it's the tyre that me, Maverick and Vale were on the podium with a week ago. And they expect us to use here.
“As I've always said, it's not an easy job for Michelin but the tyre they should have brought was one that Dovi tested before. It's the same for everyone but we have to do what we can. The tyre doesn't suit my style. Both of them, one's too soft and one's not working with our bike.”
Both of Crutchlow's LCR Honda RC213Vs are fitted with the new frame he raced at Silverstone – one that is believed to have been discarded by Dani Pedrosa after the Grand Prix of Barcelona.
Crutchlow also expressed doubts over whether it was the correct strategy not to have tested the old and new chassis back-to-back over the weekend, as the old may have been more suited to Misano's tight twists and turns.
“It's too late to change. I believe we should try both. The problem is that we don't have time now. The morning is going to be cooler than the afternoon. It'd be a gamble to go back now but maybe my normal chassis was the best one for this circuit. But there's not much we can do at the moment.
“The problem is I think at some circuits it's better than this one. At Aragon it's better also. Here, I don't think it's the right choice, or, maybe if I had used the other one it would have confirmed if it was the right choice.
“I don't know. I don't think it's the right choice but we started the weekend with both. It's got delayed and now it's too late to go back and check them. It's difficult to do in morning warm-up.”