Despite a two-month absence from riding motorcycles, Cal Crutchlow began the new year much in the same way he finished the last – lapping among the fastest in the MotoGP field at the first preseason test of 2017 at Sepang.
Crutchlow ended Monday in sixth place on the timesheets, the fastest of the five Hondas present in Malaysia, and 0.889s off Casey Stoner's astonishing best lap of the day.
The Englishman was, however, unable to go into specifics when speaking of his testing plan. He and his LCR Honda squad had been testing different engine configurations, he said, along with “some small electronics stuff.”
“We're testing some different configurations,” began Crutchlow, keen to give little away on the feelings offered up by Honda's significantly redesigned '17 engines.
“I'm sure the other guys are testing the same. At the moment I'm alright. Our testing plan with regards to everything starts tomorrow.
“I worked on some small electronics stuff today. It was not really too relative to the engine or any of the engines really. It was more just in general because no one else is doing it. I think there are some positives, some negatives.”
Other than testing the different engines, Cruthclow had a minor issue with two tyres Michelin had brought to the test.
“It's funny how you have two months off the bike and you completely forget how to ride. Then again in two runs you're already up to speed and able to give feedback for this.
“But yeah, sometimes I was braking too aggressive. Sometimes I was braking too weak. This is what it is so we'll take some good stuff from today. You also look at the data and think, 'This isn't really how I ride.' You see ten laps of your normal style and ten laps of a style of somebody who isn't riding very well.
“But yeah, I didn't have a bad day. I'm happy enough with how it went. Obviously, as I said, we had two tyres that were strange. I think Vale [Valentino Rossi] and Dovi [Andrea Dovizioso] had two that were strange as well. When Dovi changed his tyre to a good one he was able to go really fast.
“We wasted some time with that because we had to check whether it was the front or the rear. We made four ins and four outs. So that was a ball-ache. We have quite a lot of stuff to do over the next two days. It doesn't look as though we'll get too much chance in this [rain] but we can hope.”
One thing Crutchlow was able to reveal was that he had continued through the day with the chassis – rejected mid-way through 2016 by Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa - that carried him to great success in the second half of last season.
“I don't know if we have another chassis here. I haven't bothered asking. It suits my style, not the way I ride. It's just that at the end of the year I was comfortable on that so why change. That's my feeling.
“We know Jack and Tito are using it as well. The factory guys may be taking a different direction. I don't know. I don't think we are behind the factory guys because of this.
“As I said last year many times there's a big positive to that chassis and a big negative. Where they're probably gaining is the opposite to me. Where I'm gaining is the opposite to them so we'll see.”
Crutchlow was three places and 0.169s faster than next best Honda Marc Marquez.