Cal Crutchlow says an Austin MotoGP front-row start was “easily there for the taking” if not for his qualifying crash.
After finishing third in Argentina a fortnight ago, Crutchlow crashed his LCR Honda at Turn 11 in the closing stages of the Austin qualifying.
Fifth fastest in practice, the Briton believes a spot on the front row behind Marc Marquez and Maverick Vinales – who had a gap of eighth tenths over third-placed Valentino Rossi – went begging.
“It was there, easily, for the taking for me,” Crutchlow, who will instead start ninth, said.
“What can I say? Honda problem, losing the front everywhere. Yes, you could say it was my fault, but I didn’t really do anything different to any other lap this week.
“I’ve had vibration into Turn 1, Turn 11, Turn 12, Turn 15, the whole weekend, no matter what front tyre, no matter what bike setting.
“It feels like chatter but it’s not, it’s more of a vibration with the front. We honestly don’t think it’s the tyres. We think it’s more our package.
“I was eight-and-a-half tenths under [my best lap] by the start of the back straight, which is where I crashed.
“It’s disappointing but we have to take it on the chin and start strong tomorrow.”
Crutchlow believes Marquez and Vinales “are above the rest”, but with one second covering Rossi in third and Scott Redding in 10th, he believes the fight behind them will be “a lottery”.
“We know we have a good pace and a lot better pace than a lot of the others, especially with the tyres we’re going to be racing with,” he said.
“[Dani] Pedrosa has a lot better pace than what people think, to be honest.
“I don’t think he’s got the pace of Marc, but he should easily be on the podium, he should actually easily be winning, because he’s the one that’s not stressing the tyre at all, and the limit is the tyre.
“He’s not riding fast enough, I don’t think, for him at this circuit. He has a big potential to be on the podium.
“Valentino is a race-day man and he’s managed to pull something out today. He will be there and competitive.
“After that, I don’t know. To pass the Ducatis is going to be nightmare, we’ll see. I think it will be a good battle for anything after [the top two].”
Additional reporting by Charles Bradley