MotoGP rookie Cal Crutchlow is "riding like a veteran" according to his Tech 3 Yamaha team boss Herve Poncharal, after the Briton qualified sixth for the Catalunya Grand Prix.
Crutchlow has now started in the top 10 for every grand prix he has contested, and equalled his best qualifying result so far in Spain today.
Poncharal said the performance was exactly what Tech 3 needed after its other rider Colin Edwards was sidelined with a broken collarbone following a practice crash.
"Cal is certainly doing his best to put the smile back on our faces," said Poncharal. "His performances on tracks he's never seen before have been remarkable, and today he showed again he is a top level MotoGP rider.
"He looks more like a seasoned campaigner than a rookie and to qualify in the top six again against this competition is a fantastic achievement. We are looking forward to the race with a lot of confidence now and hopefully he can do Colin and the team proud."
Crutchlow said he had been hoping to emulate fellow Superbike convert and Tech 3 predecessor Ben Spies' fifth place on the 2010 Catalunya grid.
"I'm happy enough to be on the second row of the grid again because this is another track I've come to with zero experience and I've shown my raw speed and proved a few people wrong," he said. "Ben was fifth here last year and I was trying to get that one place higher up to equal it, but I can't be disappointed with sixth on the grid. All credit to the team because they have done a fantastic job again."
The Briton's best race results so far are eighth places at Jerez and Estoril, and he is optimistic about his chances of a strong run tomorrow if the team can make a few improvements overnight.
"We've still got some work to do to improve the side grip but I'm confident we can make the set-up better for the race," said Crutchlow. "As soon as I open the throttle I'm struggling for grip, so if we can improve in that area we should be on course for a strong result.
"As I get faster and faster I have to keep changing my riding style but I think I can have an interesting race if I can get away from the start. It's a long run down to the first corner here so I need a good start to avoid getting bunched up at the beginning.
"It's a shame Colin is not here because I can learn lot from him on the data that helps me out a lot, particularly with lines. I heard he sent the team a text saying he wanted to see me 'kick some ass', so hopefully I can do that for him tomorrow."