Cal Crutchlow said it was pointless to attempt a full race distance-run on the final day of the Phillip Island MotoGP test after running into problems with Michelin's soft front tyre.
But he still managed to set a very impressive pace, close to Marc Marquez, over a 'small' 15-lap stint (the race is 27 laps).
The British rider completed the three-day test in fifth place overall on the combined time sheets after lapping in 1m 29.101s on Friday.
Crutchlow, who was a brilliant winner at the Australian circuit in 2016, says the new 'big bang'-powered Honda is more physical to ride than ever but adds that 'somehow we are making the lap times.'
“It seems we missed the window to set a fast lap time and I had some of Michelin's testing tyres, which we tried at lunchtime, but it seems we have a small problem with the front tyre – Marc [Marquez] also – and it is not working very well with the Honda at the moment,” he said.
“Overall the lap time is not so bad but we only did a small long run and we're not doing the full distance because we have no chance with the front tyres, so we will do it maybe at Qatar. The front tyre is falling to bits and it's not all that hot at all, and we're not really struggling with track temperature, but suddenly no front grip.
“I watched Jack [Miller] do his long run and it was embarrassing because he can't go around the corners. We can do a fast race pace, there's no doubt about that, but at the moment there is no point. We're wasting time because the front tyres are too soft,” Crutchlow added.
“Do you really think I'm going to show my hand at the moment anyway? Marc showed his a little bit yesterday, but he has some in his pocket, trust me.”
Crutchlow says the physicality needed to ride the RC213V is greater than last year and was at pains to point out how difficult it is to manhandle the Honda.
“In Qatar we'll maybe learn some more, but I think it's going to be a bit of a learning start to the year. One thing is we can be fast and we don't really know why – me and Marc and Dani [Pedrosa] – because the bike actually feels really difficult to ride. Physically it's even worse than last time and nobody else can ride last year's bike anyway, because it's so physical compared to what they've been on. Now, this one's even worse, but the lap time is there,” he said.
“Maybe we just have to suck it up and deal with it again. They're coming with upgrades all the time and small things to help us out and they're working hard, but it's not going to come overnight. It's whether we can get it dialled in soon enough to fight for the championship because the others don't have to dial anything in.”
Crutchlow said it was clear more progress is needed with the new engine, which features an uneven 'big bang' firing pattern, while the electronics are also posing some problems.
“We had some things [for the engine] but nothing special that I haven't tried before; the electronics still seem to be quite an issue but also the engine, we've not really figured out. The problem is we picked an engine up and just bolted it into our normal chassis and a lot of the time it just doesn't work like that.
“Last year I was not fast in the test but I came here and won the race. I feel that I'm in a good moment and that I'm riding well and we're not pushing 100 per-cent because we can't. I think Dani is probably the only one who can get away with it because of his weight and even he is saying the front tyre is too soft and he doesn't want to push the front at all.”