Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith head into tomorrow’s Gran Premio IVECO de Aragon confident they can secure a double top 10 finish in what promises to be an exciting 23-lap MotoGP battle.
A fastest lap of 1.48.653 in QP2 this afternoon will see Crutchlow start from seventh position on the grid, the British rider unfortunately unable to continue an excellent qualifying record in 2013 that had seen him qualify inside the top five in 13 previous attempts this season.
Teammate Bradley Smith enjoyed a superb second day at the 14th round of the World Championship campaign. Overnight rain left the track littered with damp patches this morning and prevented Smith from trying to climb into the top 10 at the end of FP3 to move immediately into QP2.
The 22-year-old dominated QP1 with a best time of 1.49.724 and he then shaved off almost a second in the second 15-minute session to secure a grid position just one place behind Crutchlow in eighth.
His personal best time of 1.48.854 was just over a second off pole position and a fraction outside of 0.2s of the more experienced Crutchlow, with Smith emphatically proving his 13th position yesterday did not accurately show his true potential.
With tweaks to his riding style paying off immediately today, Smith is now full of confidence that he can battle for a ninth top 10 finish of an impressive rookie premier class campaign.
Cal Crutchlow (7th 1.48.653 – 8 laps): “I can’t be happy to have missed out on a top six grid position for the first time this season. Qualifying just didn’t go according to plan and I feel we picked the wrong bike. We had a choice of two different settings and unfortunately we chose the wrong one. And on the three laps where I was really pushing for a time I didn’t nail any of them.
I made a small mistake on each lap and that is the reason why I am only seventh on the grid, which is a bit disappointing because I was proud of the fact that I’d qualified in the top five in every race before this weekend. A good start is going to be crucial to try and go with the leading group but coming from seventh means I am expecting a very difficult race.”
Bradley Smith (8th 1.48.854 – 8 laps): “The last two races have been pretty dismal, so it is great for me to be able to turn it around this weekend. I said yesterday that I didn’t feel 13th was a true reflection of my potential and thankfully I was able to show that was the case today. The bike felt great and I have to say a massive thanks to my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew. We had a long meeting last night and there were a lot of positive things that came out of it.
I was able to change my riding style like they suggested and I got more feeling from the bike and the lap time was a big step from yesterday. Eighth is the position where I expect to be given the competitiveness of the package I am on. Today I got the good feeling back with the bike that I had in Brno and now I am really excited for the race. Tyre life will be the key tomorrow but hopefully I can race in front of the bikes of Dovizioso and Hayden and not behind them.”