Cal Crutchlow delivered a fantastic qualifying performance in cool and cloudy conditions at the Motorland Argon circuit this afternoon, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider heading the timesheets for over half the session before securing a place on the front row of the grid for the sixth time in 2012.
The session started on a dry track, which gave Crutchlow and teammate Andrea Dovizioso their first opportunity to assess grip levels on Bridgestone's slick tyres after a rain-hit weekend.
Crutchlow brilliantly built up his speed and he was the first rider to lap in the 1.49 bracket when a lap of 1.49.718 moved him over 0.6s clear of the pack with 15 minutes left on the clock.
He held top spot until just over three minutes remained when his pace was bettered by Spanish duo Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa.
The British rider lowered his lap time to a 1.49.576 to finish just 0.172s off pole position. Today's result secured Crutchlow a place on the front row for the third race in succession ahead of tomorrow's 23-lap encounter.
And today's qualifying session was the third in succession that Crutchlow, Lorenzo and Pedrosa have occupied the top three places.
The first dry session of the weekend gave Dovizioso the opportunity to focus on the dry race set-up of his YZR-M1 machine. The Italian was a consistent challenger for the top three for much of the session and with just five minutes remaining he looked well set to notch his third front row start of the campaign when he sat in third position on the leaderboard.
Dovizioso was able to set a best time of 1.50.241 that secured him a place on the second row in sixth position and he's confident he will be a leading contender for the rostrum in tomorrow's race.
Cal Crutchlow (Position 3rd - Time 1'49.576 - Laps 23): “I think we did a very good job today to finish on the front row when this session was the first time we have been able to work on the settings in the dry.
My main aim for the session was to get the bike set-up for the race and immediately out of the box I was fast and all through the session I was able to steadily improve my pace.
I'm confident going into tomorrow's race because the bike feels good, despite the fact that we missed a lot of dry track time, so credit to my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew because they did a fantastic job again.
I thought we'd be struggling more because Jorge, Dani and Ben all tested here for two days recently, so to be so close to them shows we've done a great job.
That is the third front row start on the bounce now but after Misano I have got to finish the race tomorrow. Hopefully it will be in the top three because it would be great to get another podium.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Position 6th - Time: 1'50.241 - Laps 25): “It has been a particular session this afternoon with quite tricky conditions as qualifying was the first dry session of the weekend and with the low temperatures we had to use the soft front tyre, which is normally unusual for this track and for my riding style.
I can't push as hard as I would like while braking on corner entry, so we will probably use the hard option in the race tomorrow without having it tried before. I'm still really happy with my feeling with the bike.
I could have been faster during the last run but I did just two of the five planned flying laps because I found some slower riders on track. I'm confident that I will be able to fight for the podium tomorrow, but it will be important to make a good start to stay with the leading group during the opening laps.”
Source: Yamaha Racing