The penultimate round of the European phase of the 2013 MotoGP World Championship campaign got off to a promising start for Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Cal Crutchlow at the state-of-the-art Motorland Aragon track today.
In pleasantly warm conditions throughout today, Crutchlow ended the opening day of practice at the technically challenging and undulating Spanish venue in sixth position on the combined timesheets.
A lap of 1.50.575 in this morning’s FP1 put Crutchlow in seventh position, but a big improvement to a 1.49.840 this afternoon elevated the British rider into the top six ahead of Factory Yamaha rider and nine-times World Champion Valentino Rossi. Teammate Bradley Smith has happy memories of the Motorland Aragon track after taking a podium finish in the 2010 125cc encounter and the British rider enjoyed a positive start to proceedings this morning when a lap of 1.51.263 placed him 10th in the rankings.
The 22-year-old, who is looking to consolidate his top 10 World Championship position in Sunday’s 23-lap race, was able to improve his pace to a 1.50.944 this afternoon but his progress unfortunately wasn’t reflected on the timesheets as he slipped down the order to 13th.
Experimenting with a new riding position to improve rear grip that he first tried during a test session after the previous round at Misano, Smith was less than 0.5s away from the top 10.
Cal Crutchlow (6th 1.49.840 – 36 laps): “Today was a pretty positive start to the weekend and I am happy to be in the top six. This morning proved it wasn’t going to be easy because I was seventh and the top six had all tested here back in June, so they have an advantage in terms of set-up and information.
I feel I am riding quite well but for tomorrow we definitely need to try and get some more speed out of the bike. I am quite slow compared to the rest in the speed traps and also quite a way off the fastest Yamaha, so that is one area we need to look at tonight and work on improving for the rest of the weekend.”
Bradley Smith* (13th 1.50.944 – 36 laps): “I’m reasonably happy with how the weekend has started but obviously the final position doesn’t look so good. I don’t think the position truly reflects our potential because a few guys not so far in front of me used a soft tyre to make their best time and they could only make one fast lap.
I feel my pace is consistent but I am certainly looking to improve by at least 0.5s tomorrow. Track conditions between FP1 and FP2 changed quite a lot, so it is not clear which direction to go with on the set-up. But the first goal for tomorrow will be to make sure I am back in the top 10 at the end of FP3 to advance straight into QP2.”