Cal Crutchlow believes that his strong start to the 2012 MotoGP campaign has come from regaining self-confidence as well as finding the new 1000cc bikes more suited to his style.
After an often difficult rookie campaign in 2011, Crutchlow began the new season with a front row start at the Qatar Grand Prix and a fourth-place finish, beaten only by Jorge Lorenzo and the two works Hondas of Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner.
"I think last year was a tough year because I started the year so well, especially the second and third races. And then obviously I crashed and had a few bad races, and then in the middle of the year it was just a disaster," Crutchlow said.
"So I think I needed to regroup myself and get my confidence back as well because I know that when I'm at the top of my game, when I won World Supersport, was winning World Superbike races and was the fastest guy out there, I felt it was all about confidence and I never had it at the end of last year and I've never had that so it was a big wake-up call for me.
"Not confidence in a cocky or arrogant way, just confidence as in knowing that I can do it and I feel that I've got that back again now. Not to say it went away, I just think I needed a little bit of time. And maybe I needed that result at Valencia to know that it's still there, I'm not far away.
"Then obviously we tested the 1000cc after and I tested well on the 1000 as well. I think we just need to keep building on what we've started this year. I think this year with a little bit of a different attitude there's no reason why we can't be challenging up near the front for a lot of the year."
With the Tech 3 team having already promised its Moto2 rider Bradley Smith a MotoGP seat for 2013, Crutchlow and his teammate Andrea Dovizioso already know they cannot both stay on beyond this season.
Crutchlow believes he is channeling that pressure well, though he said it was not just the situation with Smith that led to this, as there is the possibility of a much larger shake up in the rider market at the end of 2012.
"I also think it's my second year, I want to be in MotoGP next year and my contract is up at the end of this year," he said. "I feel that I'm riding better because of that as well. I'd like to not necessarily prove people wrong, but I'd like to show what I can do if I really need to as well."
The Briton added: "At the end of the day, it's not just me out of contract this year, there's a lot of riders out of contract, nearly every single one of them. So I've just got to do the best job I can and hopefully something will come. It's a long way off yet and I'm just concentrating on doing my job, which is to finish as high as I can finish."