Cal Crutchlow has revealed his concerns that Yamaha Sterilgarda could find itself on the back foot to begin with at Assen this weekend in the fourth round of the 2010 World Superbike Championship – but with strong previous form around the historic Dutch circuit, the qualifying star of the year to-date is confident of getting there come race day.
Crutchlow stunned his rivals and observers alike in blitzing Superpole to seal the top spot on the starting grid aboard his improving Yamaha R1 in both Portimão and Valencia – on the former occasion, astoundingly, to the tune of almost half a second – but in the four races that followed in Portugal and Spain, the reigning World Supersport Champion succeeded in snatching just a sole podium finish.
Similarly, the 24-year-old's victory hopes at Assen in WSS this time twelve months ago were dashed when title rival Eugene Laverty overturned Crutchlow's pole position advantage to take the chequered flag ahead by the narrowest of margins of a tenth of a second.
However, if he concedes that a slight track re-design for 2010 – with a new fast, flowing corner incorporated into the back section – will likely leave Yamaha playing a game of catch-up initially, the Coventry-born star is nonetheless optimistic of swiftly getting down to business.
“I had a good race at Assen last year in Supersport,” he recollected, “but it's going to be difficult this weekend as a couple of other teams have tested there already with the new circuit changes. Hopefully in the first free practice we'll get to grips with it. There are some new changes coming this weekend with the bike, so let's hope we've made some progress and see how we get on.”
“Assen has more grip than Valencia so it should suit our bike better than the last track,” added Crutchlow's crew chief Marcus Eschenbacher. “Assen has fast, sweeping corners which are banked so you have to set up the bike to suit these areas. The rear end needs enough damping support and spring rate to keep it under control in the long, fast corners.
“We will try a new clutch to improve our starts, which is arriving from Japan, and some new electronic adjustments to help with Cal's starts from the line using the launch control system; these include new ignition mappings for Cal's engine management system.”