Cal Crutchlow is adamant that rookie countryman Sam Lowes should be given more time to show what he can do in MotoGP.

At Catalunya, round 7 of 18, Aprilia confirmed rumours that Lowes is in serious danger of losing his seat unless he can 'quickly show some improvement'.

By the summer break the Englishman had finished in the points just once (14th), but gave a reminder of his talents by reaching Qualifying 2 in wet conditions at Assen, only for his engine to dramatically expire.

It wasn't the first time Lowes has been hindered by technical issues and the former World Supersport champion is also thought to be on an older specification RS-GP than veteran team-mate Aleix Espargaro.

"Sam hasn't had a fair crack of the whip, that's for sure," Crutchlow said at Assen. "He's sat in the garage more times than he's been on track most of the year. He's had a lot of mechanical issues and stuff that's not his fault and he's not been able to prove himself as such, I don't think."

Adding to the pressure on Lowes is that former Moto2 rivals Johann Zarco (and now Jonas Folger) have each taken a podium for Tech 3 Yamaha, while Alex Rins scored a ninth place for Suzuki before his Austin injury.

Not a fair comparison, according to Crutchlow.

"I understand where Aprilia are coming from as well, but if they are looking at Zarco and Rins they are looking at the wrong situation," Crutchlow said. "The thing that Zarco is on, you have no idea how easy that thing is to ride. And you have no idea if you put Zarco on an Aprilia or Honda where he'd be. He would not be anywhere near where he is now, that is sure. He's a good rider, don't get me wrong. So you can't really look at that and compare and I think Sam will get a lot better. He just needs time."

Crutchlow, a double MotoGP race winner last season, also pointed to his own early struggles after switching from World Superbike in 2011.

"What he's doing with the bike is not completely wrong, but it's wrong. It's exactly how I rode when I first came here and look where I finished. I was shit. Then look at what I managed to do over the years after," explained the LCR rider, a podium finisher on Yamaha, Ducati and Honda machinery.

"I had arguments with Herve [Poncharal, Tech 3 boss] the first year I came here. I wanted to leave and go back to World Superbike. Herve was the one that told me I just needed time, to stay and tried to calm me down. And the next year I was fourth at the first race and got two podiums.

"It's just the way it is. You need to gain experience and improve. But they need to give Sam time to do that, definitely.

"The problem is now people compare riders that come into the championship against Marc when he was a rookie. You can't do that. You've no idea what Marc can do with the bike. I see it day-in, day-out because I see the data. And you can't compare with someone on a different bike - like Zarco or Rins, if we are talking about Sam. I think they [Aprilia] just need to give him time and he'll be strong, and if by the end of next year he is not...

"If you put Marc on that bike now it'd be on the podium, guaranteed. So why don't they put pressure on Aleix? I know Aleix has been the first guy to back Sam up and I'm not criticising Aleix, I'm criticising [Aprilia].

"Aleix and Sam are both good riders and I think they both deserve to be in the team."

Nonetheless, will Lowes get the chance to stay? The number of riders admitting to talks with Aprilia suggesting the factory is determined to find a new team-mate for Espargaro.

The Spaniard is 14th in the world championship, with 32 points.

By Peter McLaren

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