Injured Cal Crutchlow able to go a second quicker if needed

Cal Crutchlow, who made his first MotoGP appearance on Wednesday at Sepang since breaking his ankle at Phillip Island in 2018, says he is “confident” he can go a second quicker if he needs to.

LCR's Crutchlow suffered an extensive break to his right ankle in a crash during practice for last season's Australian Grand Prix, which ruled him out for the remainder of the year.

The first day of pre-season testing in 2019 marked Crutchlow's first time on his Honda since the accident, and he completed 51 laps on his way to 14th on the timesheets. 

Ending the day just over a second off the pace of injured Honda stablemate Marc Marquez, Crutchlow believes he is able to make a gain in laptime of a second if he needs to.

“I feel good, it's really nice to back out there,” said Crutchlow.

“It's nice to be back working with the LCR Castrol Honda team and HRC again straight here in Malaysia. 

“I thought it was going to be a difficult day. If I'm honest about the feeling, the first laps were so strange. 

“I went round the track and thought I was doing a 2:01s, but I did a 2:09s or a 2:08s or something like that. 

“I don't feel fantastic, but I feel I can be competitive this season which is great. I didn't really push much today, I worked on trying to understand my feeling on the bike again after so long off. 

“The team did a great job with me today, they were patient with me in regards to my information and it seems that I got into working how I would usually work. 

“I enjoyed it, and I'm confident if I needed to go one second quicker I could have.”

Crutchlow had his first ride on the latest version of the RC213V during the afternoon, and feels Honda has improved on the “weaker points” of last year's bike. 

“The plan was always for me to start on the 18 bike for familiarisation of me riding, because in all honesty my first couple of runs I was hardly even warming the tyres. 

“So it was pointless for me to put mileage on the 2019 bike straight away, but we did this afternoon. 

“I feel HRC have done a good job with that bike. We need to improve the setting and understand it a little bit more as usual, because it is different to what I've been used to. 

“But they've done a good job. We're looking at improving the weaker points of last year, and I think they've done some of that. 

“We need to adjust the setting, there's a lot of electronics we need to adjust and also the chassis, and we'll start to work on that over the next two days.”