With temperatures rocketing to a sweltering 30 degrees, Crutchlow delivered an ice cool performance to challenge for a ninth career front row.
Cal Crutchlow stormed to his second front row of 2013 in scorching heat at the Circuit de Catalunya this afternoon, the British rider continuing his hot streak of form to qualify as the fastest Yamaha rider ahead of the sixth round of the MotoGP World Championship.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider saved his best for last with a blistering lap of 1.41.501 on his eighth and final lap moving him ahead of reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo to secure second position on the grid for tomorrow’s 25-lap race.
The 27-year-old was immediately inside the top three and he never looked like missing out on his front row start since the opening round in Qatar, his quickest lap making him the fastest Yamaha rider by 0.065s ahead of home crowd hero Lorenzo.
Bradley Smith will start the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya from 11th on the grid, the British rider bouncing back superbly from a heavy crash in yesterday’s sun-drenched practice to post a best time of 1.42.548. Smith didn’t let yesterday’s tumble dent his confidence and he advanced into QP2 with a best lap of 1.42.607, with only Andrea Iannone able to lap within 0.5s of the 22-year-old in QP1.
As track temperatures soared to over 50 degrees this afternoon in conditions that provided an extreme test of both man and machine, Smith was only a second off the sensational pace set by teammate Crutchlow and he is confident he can battle for the top 10 tomorrow.
Cal Crutchlow (2nd, Time - 1.41.501, 8 laps): “I think we did a great job today and I am really happy to be back on the front row. It seems a while since I managed it at the first race in Qatar and at least I won’t be starting from fourth again. The conditions were really tricky with the incredibly high track temperature and it looks like it is going to be a big battle in the race tomorrow.
I’ll be happy to get a good start and hang with Dani and Jorge because they are obviously going to be strong. Jorge had a few problems today and maybe without those he would have taken second off me.
But there’s no doubt we deserve this front row and that’s a good reward for all the hard work done by my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew. Congratulations to Dani though because that was an incredible lap time in such tricky conditions.”
Bradley Smith (11th, Time - 1.42.548, 8 laps): “I’m feeling a lot more positive now considering what happened yesterday when I was quite slow. I’ve managed to go 1.7s faster today and that’s a great step. I am only a second away from Cal and that is my normal level and I feel we did a good job. When you go so much faster though the feeling with the bike changes and I could do with one more day of practice to fine-tune the set-up.
I am really looking forward to the race now. Tyre wear in such hot conditions is going to be critical but I need to stay with the group in the first eight laps and then it will be a big fight to see who can conserve the tyres for the longest.
I need to say a big thanks to my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew because they have worked really hard on changing the bike to help me improve. My left hand I injured in Mugello was also much better today and it won’t cause me any issues in the race.”