The biggest race of the 2013 MotoGP World Championship for Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith got off to an encouraging start at the historic Silverstone track this afternoon.
Lap times tumbled in hotter conditions this afternoon and while home crowd hero Crutchlow was able to knock over 1.5s off his best pace, he slipped down the leader board into sixth, though he was less than 0.1s behind Alvaro Bautista in fourth.
Roared on by a large home crowd soaking up glorious late summer sunshine, Crutchlow was hoping to be higher up the rankings and closer to the fastest pace but he is optimistic that he is yet to unleash the full potential of his YZR-M1 machine having experimented with a range of settings in both 45-minute sessions.
Smith’s first experience of the long and technical Silverstone layout on a MotoGP machine saw him focus on the set-up of his YZR-M1 machine to cope with super fast sections and rapid changes of direction that make the British venue one of the toughest but most spectacular challenges on the schedule.
The 22-year-old was ninth fastest this morning and less than 0.3s outside of the top six and like Crutchlow he was able to make big progress in FP2.
He improved from a 2.05.108 to a 2.03.750 and that major improvement promoted him into eighth on combined times and reduced the gap to the best pace to just over one second after he was able to successfully evaluate soft and hard tyre options for both the front and rear today.
In both sessions Smith set his best lap on his last lap, the rookie impressively building up his speed throughout to boost his confidence that he can battle for a top six in Sunday’s 20-lap race.
Cal Crutchlow - Position: 6th - Time: 2.03.505 - Laps: 33: “Firstly it was fantastic to see such a big crowd here at Silverstone today. The support from the British fans always gives you a boost and it was a special feeling to see so many here on the first day. It hasn’t been an easy start to my home race but I am sure we can make some big improvements.
This morning wasn’t too bad and I was satisfied to be in the top three but it was a bit more a struggle in FP2. We were trying the bike with different settings and at the moment I’ve not made a decision on which is the direction to go.
I need to improve in two sectors to be faster and more competitive and one area we need to work on is front-end grip because I had too much wheelie. We will have a good look at the data tonight to make sure I’m stronger tomorrow.”
Bradley Smith - Position: 8th - Time: 2.03.750 - Laps: 34: “It was great to ride in front of my home crowd today and the amount of people here was amazing. The British fans have always given me great support and today was no exception. It was a positive day because I found a good setting this morning and then it was a case of tweaking it to suit this track.
For the first time all season I have tried all the tyre options for the front and rear in one day, so we have evaluated a lot and got a clear way to follow for the rest of the weekend. This track is certainly designed for MotoGP. It is so fast and open that you really get to explore the bike’s full potential. I will enjoy riding the YZR-M1 this weekend and as I get faster I am sure it will be even more fun.”