Crutchlow dazzles in Qatar qualifying
MotoGP Rookie Cal Crutchlow lit up the Losail International Circuit in Qatar tonight with a stunning debut qualifying performance. The British rider lapped faster than nine-times world champion Valentino Rossi and a host of more experienced riders to produce the performance of the night on board the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine. Crutchlow built up his confidence and speed throughout tonight's session, the big progress he's made in mastering the braking technique in MotoGP evident with fast and consistent pace.
He made major steps in improving front-end feel in the fast sections of the 5.38km Doha circuit and finished less than 0.5s away from the top six, despite still riding in constant pain from the nasty left finger injury he suffered in a testing crash on Monday night. He was a massive 2.2s faster than his best pace at the two-night test earlier this week and he's confident he can fight for a top ten finish in his MotoGP debut tomorrow night.
Colin Edwards will kick off his ninth premier class campaign from 10th position, the experienced American finishing just over 0.060s behind Crutchlow. Edwards was happy with his performance on the hard compound Bridgestone rear tyre he will use in the 22-lap race tomorrow night. But he was unable to significantly improve his pace on the soft tyre on his way to clocking a best time of 1.55.647
Position 8th - Time 1'55.578 - Laps 23
"It feels great to have qualified eighth when you look at the calibre and record of some of the guys behind me, but I'm not going to be getting ahead of myself. It is just a shame it is not the four-rider per row formation because that would be a second row! But to be on the third row, I'm happy enough with that. A qualifying session like that is not like Superpole in World Superbikes at all. I'm normally used to the intense pressure and being hyped up for one lap, so to have an hour where you build up pace a bit slower felt a bit strange. But I'm really happy and my fastest lap wasn't a perfect one. I made a couple of mistakes but I think that's because I'm having a small issue with the front-end in the fast corners. But I still managed a 55.5 and I never would have imagined doing that pace a few days ago at the test when I was doing high 57s. I'm not going to make a prediction for the race. I'd be happy to get a few points and have a strong race. It will be tough to finish where I've qualified but with the help of my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew, it has been a really positive weekend so far."
Position 10th - Time 1'55.647 - Laps 24
"I definitely feel like I'm riding a lot better than tenth position, but that shows how competitive MotoGP is this year. As good as I'm riding, I feel like I should have been on the second row because all week I've been around sixth and seventh position. I just wasn't able to lap as fast as I needed to be on the soft tyre. It looks a bit like last year in that when the Honda has a soft tyre in they can drop the lap time by a big chunk. We improve but not by a big margin and that's something we need to work on in the future. But I'm really confident with the hard rear tyre and we've got the bike working great in race trim. I'm fast and consistent but I couldn't do anything more, I'm definitely getting the most of the bike."
-source: tech 3