Cal Crutchlow’s sky high confidence was once again reflected on the MotoGP timesheets after the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider challenged for the top three in both free practice sessions at the Circuit de Catalunya today.
The British rider wasted no time in establishing a fast rhythm this morning when he stormed into the top three in FP1, a personal best lap of 1.42.492 only 0.070s off reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo’s best pace.
Rather than use a soft Bridgestone rear tyre to improve his pace, the 27-year-old preferred to check endurance with the harder option to give the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team as much information as possible on tyre wear ahead of Sunday’s 25-lap race.
Crutchlow was fourth fastest on the combined rankings with his faster pace in FP1 this morning meaning he was only 0.047s outside of the top three and less than 0.2s away from Valentino Rossi’s best pace of 1.42.297.
Today’s action proved to be another tough and painful learning experience for Bradley Smith, the rookie finishing 14th after a fast fall in the second session.
After heavy falls during preparations for the previous round in Mugello left him with left hand and wrist injuries, Smith made a positive start to then Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya today when he set the 12th fastest time in FP1.
As temperatures soared to a gruelling 28 degrees this afternoon, Smith had already dropped his pace to a 1.44.247 when he suffered a tumble at Turn 3 shortly after the halfway stage.
Fortunately he was uninjured in the spill and he will now work closely with his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew to find some improvements with his YZR-M1 ahead of tomorrow’s final practice and qualifying sessions.
Cal Crutchlow (4th, Time 1.42.492): “I am really happy with today’s practice because we experimented a lot with the bike and found some very positive things that will help me for the rest of the weekend. This afternoon when the temperature really came hot I didn’t use a soft tyre and we can see from the timesheets how much of an advantage that was.
I am sure if I had used the soft tyre I’d have been inside the top three but I preferred to do a long run with the hard tyre and it was positive. I need to improve a bit in the first sector but we have some changes planned for tomorrow that should help make me stronger and overall today I am really happy.
I am convinced it is going to be a big fight on Sunday with the Spanish boys obviously wanting to put on a show here but I am looking forward to being part of the battle.”
Bradley Smith (14th, Time 1.44.247): “Today was another tough day. I am not feeling so confident with the setting and I am missing some confidence myself. I am lucky I didn’t damage my body in the crash because it was another big fall. I lost the front and as I tried to save it the rear tyre gripped and threw me off.
The bike hit my left knee and that’s why I was limping in the gravel but luckily I am fine. Right now I need to work hard and sit down with my crew to find where I am loosing most of the time. I don’t really know what is missing but we will find something tonight and approach it at 100% again tomorrow.”
Yamaha Tech 3 Team