MotoGP rookie Cal Crutchlow believes he made great progress during the first test of 2011 at Sepang this week. The Superbike convert was near the foot of the times and crashed on Wednesday, but was pleased with his pace at this stage in his learning curve.
"I am happy with the test because I am still learning so much but I was able to run a consistent pace and drop my lap times on each day," said Crutchlow. "I'm on a big learning curve and I wasn't looking for pure speed. I'd never ridden at this track before and it is certainly a tough place to learn quickly. All the other guys have done millions of laps around here and I just need to build up my experience."
Crutchlow added that the Tech 3 Yamaha squad was pleased with how he was getting up to speed – especially as he was still recovering from surgery on a lingering shoulder problem.
"My times are in the ballpark of those set in last year's race and that's pleasing considering everything is still so new for me and I wasn't in peak physical condition because of my shoulder," he said. "I need to improve in the braking area and also step up my pace on the hard Bridgestone tire, but I feel I'm getting more comfortable with the bike.
"I've been looking at loads of data and when we return later this month I'll continue trying to adapt my style. I'm still riding the bike too much like a superbike, but I'm pleased that I'm progressing and getting faster."
Tech 3's other rider Colin Edwards was in the top 10 throughout the test, and thinks he will be back on form with the 2011 Yamaha after a tough 2010 season.
"[The bike] has improved in every area and it was great to get back up to speed so quickly and post consistent and competitive lap times on each day," said Edwards. "The engine is a big improvement in terms of power and the chassis helps me turn much better than I could before, so in all aspects I am happy and confident that I can have a strong season.
"Looking at the field, there is some unbelievable talent but I feel really motivated to repeat some of the strong results I had in 2009. It is not going to be an easy task but I am sure with the help of the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team it is not unrealistic to fight for the top six."