Honda became the fifth manufacturer to run a special fairing with integrated winglets during a MotoGP weekend, courtesy of Cal Crutchlow on Friday at Assen.

The covered winglet design (under the 'G' of Givi on either side of the bike) is clearly different to the version seen briefly on the front of world champion Marc Marquez's RCV during the Qatar test.

However, Crutchlow said he had tried the fairing on three previous occasions, although coy on how much the design had changed.

It is unclear if the Assen fairing parts were homologated by Honda at the start of the season, but not seen at a GP until now. Or if it counts as Crutchlow's one available in-season fairing update.

HRC staff confirmed only that it is different to the design Marquez tried in Qatar, which has been dropped.

"I already tried it in Qatar [test]. A long time ago. Also the Le Mans test and Barcelona test," declared Crutchlow, who recently signed a new contract directly with HRC to remain at LCR for the next two years. "So we're just re-evaluating what I've already tested at a different circuit. In the Barcelona test I found some positives to it. But there are positives and negatives, and we're trying to obviously get the positives out of it and get rid of the negatives.

"At the moment it seems a little difficult to understand. We need to maybe adjust the settings of the bike. I know it's only a fairing, but last year with the wings we adjusted the bike quite a lot setting-wise and suspension-wise. And now we maybe have to do that again, if we want to continue with it.

"I don't know whether we will continue with it over the weekend or not. We'll see tomorrow."

Asked to compare the positives and negatives of the latest fairing to the external winglets used last year, Crutchlow replied:

"It feels different. If it felt exactly the same as wings from last year, I'd just keep it and we could go to the settings from last year. Give or take. But it takes a little bit more time to adjust. It works better in some areas than if we are talking about wings, but it's also worse in some areas.

"If it was completely better, you would see Marc and Dani using it. That's not me making an off the cuff comment, that's logical. But, I'm also trying to work and see if we can improve it and what works best with the package.

"I was pleased with what we did today and also in Barcelona with it. But it works in some circuits and doesn't work at others. That's exactly the same as when we had the wings, they worked at some circuits and not others, but we could have 50 different wings if we wanted. We'll see if we progress with it, but I don't think we're doing a bad job without them anyway."

Crutchlow said he was unable to comment specifically on issues such as high-speed cornering with the fairing or loss of top speed.

Crutchlow's fairing debut means Ducati, which pioneered the previous generation of external winglets, is now the only manufacturer yet to use a 'downforce' fairing at a 2017 event.

The radical Ducati design seen in testing has been scrapped due to a loss of top speed and the Desmosedici riders will not have such a fairing available until the one upgrade chance is taken.

New manufacturer KTM is exempt from the limit on fairing upgrades.

Crutchlow finished Friday practice in fifth position, 0.698s from Yamaha's Maverick Vinales, despite running onto the grass as he attempted to pull into pit lane during the afternoon session.

What happened?

"[Laughs] It was raining, I had a medium tyre on and I thought 'f**k, do I stay out or come in?' If someone has put some soft tyres in now...' Because you were able to push and still go fast enough, but it's about to rain!

"So I came out of the last corner and thought, 'I'll go in', and then I was going way too fast for the pit entrance so I just bailed out of it and went straight!

"I have to say one thing, the pit entrance here is a disaster. You can hit somebody so easily that is coming into the pit lane because they have to go maybe 120km/h slower to turn into the pit lane, right on the line you want to be going towards the last corner."

By Peter McLaren

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Yeah, I'm sure Cal will become the official HRC test mule from now on.

Assen seems an odd choice of track to try this fairing as it would seem better suited to tracks that have a lot of hard acceleration points (assuming the extra downforce is intended to help keep the front down?)

maybe it's part of the contract he just freshly signed with Honda, to test some new parts that they don't know (yet) if it's good or not.. just like Petrucci with Ducati.