British rider grabs first MotoGP pole ahead of young guns Marquez and Bradl
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow secured his first ever MotoGP pole position during today’s qualifying session for tomorrow’s Iveco TT at Assen with the British rider becoming the first since Jeremy McWilliams in 2002 to grab the top position in qualifying. Starting alongside Crutchlow tomorrow will be Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez who bounced back from a fall in Free Practice this morning and starting from third will be 2011 Moto2 champion Stefan Bradl for the LCR Honda team who also secured his first front row start in the premier class.
It feels fantastic to have finally got my first pole position in MotoGP.
Bradley Smith was also quickly up to speed in Q2 and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider will start from 6th place tomorrow (1m 35.454s) while Aleix Espargaro once again upset the apple cart with the Power Electronics Aspar CRT rider securing a 7th place start and was just .008s faster than the time of Alvaro Bautista and the Go&Fun Honda Gresini team (1m 35.508s). Randy De Puniet starts from 9th place for the Power Electronics Aspar team with a time of 1m 35.622s that was faster than Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden (1m 35.908s), Ignite Pramac Racing’s Michele Pirro 1m 36.866s and his teammate Andrea Iannone in 13th on a best time of 1m 36.432s.
The final grid positions were filled by Claudio Corti (NGM Forward Racing), Paul Bird Motorsport teammates Yonny Hernandez and Michael Laverty with Lucas Pesek (Came IodaRacing Project) and Ivan Silva (Avintia Blusens) bringing up the rear.
Crutchlow was ecstatic in claiming his maiden pole and he is aiming to do one better tomorrow and grab his first MotoGP win. He said, “It feels fantastic to have finally got my first pole position in MotoGP. It might have been a different story if Jorge (Lorenzo) wasn’t injured but you can only beat the guys on track and I did that today. It would have been good to have a dogfight for pole position with Jorge because it was obvious before his crash that he was going to be the man to beat. Hopefully at some stage this year I’ll be having a battle with him for the win. It is a great achievement for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team because it is not often a non-factory rider gets a pole position in MotoGP. The competition is incredibly tough but today we showed again that we can compete with the very best.
I’m particularly pleased to be on pole because I’ve been struggling a bit with the bike in the dry. I wasn’t happy in FP4 and if we can make the bike calmer there is no reason why I can’t go faster. I’m looking forward to the race now with a lot of confidence and we will see what happens but it could be a big battle hopefully for the fans to watch. Congratulations also to Bradley because he is not in the best physical condition and to be on the second row shows he is making big progress,” Crutchlow added.
Despite the double fracture Marquez suffered earlier today the rookie was pleasantly surprised with his second place start saying, “The session went pretty well. It was very important that we took part in qualifying and got this position on the grid, as before FP4 we did not expect to get a spot on the front row. We were certainly not expecting second, because the pain in my finger was really affecting me. When I put my glove on it hurt a lot, as did my back - my foot wasn't as bad, fortunately. I tried to stay focused on the bike, despite the bruises, and we managed to get a good time. Today we were able to ride a hot lap, tomorrow we will have to see how we manage over 26 laps. The weather will also be a very important factor, because here it has been constantly changing this weekend.”