Britain's Cal Crutchlow labelled MotoGP champion Marc Marquez a 'freak' talent after spending more time wrestling with his CWM LCR Honda at the Sepang test.

Crutchlow has been taken by surprise by the challenge of riding the RC213V and having sampled the Honda for himself, the Coventry man's admiration for reigning champion Marquez has reached a new level.

"He's a freak, is all I can say because in all honesty the bike is a handful, especially compared to the Yamaha - it's definitely hard to ride, there's no doubt about that," said Crutchlow, who ended day one in Malaysia tenth fastest with a time of 2m 01.713s and 1.451s behind Marquez at the top of the leaderboard.

"Physically wise, it's the most demanding bike I've ridden and it moves around a lot; you have to adjust a lot and control the bike a lot more compared to the other bikes.

"When Dani wins and when he's competitive I think it's because he's able to ride well but when Marc wins it's sheer talent and understanding of how to win as such, because it seems a lot more difficult to ride that what it looks," he added.

"You've seen with Scott [Redding], you all thought when he would get a factory Honda he would go and win a race but that isn't the truth, I can tell you that. For sure he's going to do a good job in a few years but it isn't as easy as just getting a factory bike and going that fast.

"It's the same with me, just because you have a factory Honda does not mean you are going to win, because that is not the case at all."

Crutchlow, who joined LCR Honda after a difficult year on the Ducati, wasn't reading too much into his performance on the opening day of the test but was satisfied with his lap time after completing 27 laps on the same tyre.

"I don't take a lot from my position but I take a lot from the bike; it takes a lot of getting used to, this bike, especially around here, and we need to improve the grip level of the bike," he said.

"The feeling of riding a motorcycle is strange because I had basically two months completely off, plus I had a shoulder operation and I don't like to ride in the winter at all.

"This week was the only week I rode a trials bike, just messing around, so it was nice to get back on. I felt rusty, but it's always the same for me at this test, the first day I'm always a disaster but I actually felt quite comfortable and confident; I just never took many risks or pushed too hard and I believe tomorrow we'll be a little bit better," Crutchlow added.

"The engine is stronger but I can't feel anything different chassis-wise [compared to the bike he rode at Valencia]. We've been playing a bit with the electronics and the engine braking because I struggled in some areas and that is probably the main issue at the moment. There are so many hard braking areas at this track and we need to look at the braking, because you could easily gain a second in engine braking.

"I was pleased with being able to do the lap time I did after 27 laps. It's only the first day of the test but we'll look to get the whole package to perform better tomorrow."

Crutchlow's goal remains to challenge regularly for the top three this season but he is under no illusions of the challenge he faces and he expects his former team to be especially strong this year along with the factory Honda and Yamaha riders.

"It looks positive for Ducati because Andrea [Dovizioso] is riding fantastic; he rode really well at the test at Jerez and he has carried that on. From the information I've got their new bike is going to be incredible," he said.

"Ducati are going to be amazingly fast this year. If they stayed on this bike now they would be competitive and fast; also the Forward bike, they're basically a factory bike give or take and the Open class rules brings everything a bit closer.

"We'll see, but it will be a tough ask [top three] because a lot of riders are capable of doing that but as I've said before, if I can have a year like I had at Tech 3 I'll be very happy."



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