Second row for Edwards, Crutchlow claims seventh
Colin Edwards will start from a season best grid position in tomorrow's Gran Premio d'Italia TIM after the American powered his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team machine to a brilliant sixth place in a rain-disrupted qualifying session.
And British team-mate Cal Crutchlow will head the third row in seventh position after he finished just 0.047s behind Edwards in a session interrupted by the return of light drizzle that virtually wiped out the entire second practice yesterday afternoon at the Mugello circuit.
Light rain that fell during the earlier 125cc session had stopped ahead of MotoGP qualifying and Edwards and Crutchlow were able to take to the track on slick tyres as hot and humid conditions quickly dried the new Mugello tarmac.
But light rain began to dampen the technically challenging 5.245km track shortly after the halfway stage, preventing Edwards and Crutchlow from completing their final preparations ahead of tomorrow's 23-lap race. Both did return to the track for the final minutes to complete two laps on Bridgestone's rain tyres to gauge grip levels in case tomorrow's race is staged on a wet track.
Edwards was fifth fastest this morning, the American shaving almost a second off his best time from yesterday, and he secured sixth with a best lap of 1.48.974.
Crutchlow was 11th quickest in warm and sunny conditions this morning, the British rider able to knock 0.6s off his best time from yesterday as he made big strides in gaining more confidence with the front-end of his YZR-M1 machine.
Despite his lack of track knowledge, Crutchlow was quickly able to lower his times into the 1.49 bracket early in qualifying to claim fifth. He ended with a best lap 1.49.021 to knock a further second off his previous best time and another outstanding display from Crutchlow maintained his impressive record of qualifying in the top ten for every race in his rookie campaign.
Position 6th - Time 1.48.749 - Laps 17
“That's my best qualifying result of the season and I'm really happy with that. The start of the session was really tricky because we all went out on slicks but there were parts of the track that were still damp. Your brain is telling you it is raining but you go out and push on slick tyres and that can be a bit unnerving. I gradually built up my pace and the track dried really quickly. I was on the soft front and soft rear tyre but the front was pushing a bit too much. I came in and changed to the hard front, kept the soft tyre on and I felt much better and did my fastest time with that combination. I went out on the rain tyres right at the end just to check the bike balance with the wet setting. It also gave me a chance to check the grip in the wet and it felt awesome, just like in the dry. Once again I want to thank the people at the Mugello track because the new surface is just unbelievable. A lot of the big bumps that seem to upset my rhythm have gone and it feels much easier for me to lap at the pace I know I'm capable of here. I want to say hats off to my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew too because we changed the rear set-up of the bike for the dry and it gave me more confidence. I don't think it gives me a major advantage but I'm just more feeling of what the bike is doing, so I'm looking forward to a strong race tomorrow." Colin Edwards
Position 7th - Time 1.49.021 - Laps 16
“We made a big step with the feeling from the front-end this morning and I was a second faster this afternoon. The changes we made gave me more feeling but I still feel very much on the limit with corner entry and mid-corner. I'm scratching my head a little bit searching for a solution but we need to analyse the data tonight and come up with a plan to improve for the race. Colin just took that second row from me before the rain came but it is great for the Team that both of us are up there and I'm in front of some riders who've got a lot of experience at Mugello, so that is satisfying. I'm frustrated again though because I've lost more valuable track time. This job of learning the track and trying to be competitive is tough enough as it is, but with the sessions being disrupted makes it very difficult. I only went out in the rain to do a practice start and it felt fine. I also checked the grip in t he rain and in places it felt really good and in other parts it felt a little sketchy, so I'm confident I can get a good result in the wet or dry.”
By: Tech 3 Yamaha