Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith delivered heroic performances in a tense and dramatic qualifying session ahead of tomorrow’s Mugello MotoGP race in Italy.
The 27-year-old dashed back to the paddock to jump immediately on his second YZR-M1 machine, but at that stage Crutchlow had fallen down to seventh on the time sheets.
Undeterred by the earlier crash, Crutchlow brilliantly kept his focus to rocket into the top three with a stunning lap of 1.47.771 in the decisive final moments.
As the action intensified, Crutchlow dropped back to sixth before improving his pace again, a breathless final lap of 1.47.632 ensuring he will start from fourth position on the grid for the fourth race in a row this season.
A first front row start since the opening race in Qatar eluded Crutchlow by just 0.004s in a session that took place in easily the best conditions of the weekend so far, with a strong and warm sun finally penetrating through the grey and gloomy skies that dominated yesterday’s practice.
Heroic performances are becoming a trademark of the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team in 2013 after Crutchlow raced to a career best second place in Le Mans last month with a broken bone in his right leg. Today was no exception, with Smith showing bravery and determination above and beyond the call of duty after he suffered a nasty hand injury in a high-speed practice fall yesterday afternoon.
Smith had already rode through the pain barrier to earn a place in QP2, and despite constant pain and discomfort coming from a badly damaged little finger on his left hand, a lap of 1.48.706 secured the 22-year-old a hard earned but richly deserved 11th spot on the grid.
Cal Crutchlow (4th, Time 1'47.632 – 7 laps): “That was certainly another eventful qualifying session and after crashing out I can’t complain too much to finish fourth and be only 0.004s away from the front row. Luckily I could make it back to the paddock pretty quickly and get out on the second bike and to be on the second row is a good result given what happened.
I have been struggling all weekend with the bike to be honest. And although this is my third year at this track, I still don’t feel so comfortable, so to be near the front and not running a bad pace gives me confidence for the race. I need to improve in the first sector and that was my biggest issue yesterday, so we have work to do.
It is going to be a long and tough race and we need to make the bike work better. My Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team is doing an awesome job to help me find the best setting and hopefully I can be fighting for the podium again tomorrow like I was in Le Mans.” Bradley Smith 11th, Time 1.48.706 – 5 laps
“First of all I was just happy that I was able to ride today after the big crash in practice yesterday. My left hand is not in the best condition but the Clinica Mobile staff did an incredible job working on my finger and my wrist. Sometimes there were four people working on me at the same time, so I owe a huge thanks to all of them for helping me to be out on track today.
Considering this whole situation I really have to be happy to have made my way to QP2, even if 11th is a little bit disappointing. But I preferred to save my energy for tomorrow’s race, which will probably be very demanding from a physical point of view, instead of risking too much for a better lap time this afternoon.
I’m also very pleased with the set-up of the bike and we just need to make a couple of small changes for the warm up, but all things considered we should be proud of what we achieved given my physical condition. Now I will just try to get as much rest as possible for tomorrow as I want to collect a decent number of points for the Championship and hopefully battle for another top 10.”
Yamaha Tech 3 Team