TT Circuit Assen
Heroic Cal Crutchlow fights for front row in Assen
Cal Crutchlow demonstrated his skill and bravery to mount a stunning challenge for a maiden front row grid position at the world famous Circuit van Drenthe in Assen this afternoon.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider powered his YZR-M1 machine to a best time of 1.35.329 to move into third position with less than a minute of today's qualifying session remaining.
But in a typically nail-biting finale, the 25-year-old was unforunately dropped down to the second row of the grid and he will start tomorrow's 26-lap Iveco TT Assen from sixth position for the third successive race.
Crutchlow's performance was even more impressive considering he was riding in considerable discomfort from the left collarbone he broke in five places just 13 days ago at Silverstone. Conditions for this afternoon's session were the best of the weekend so far, with no disruption caused by rain showers that had been predicted.
The dry track made riding a more physically demanding challenge for Crutchlow, particularly in the sections requiring fast changes of direction, though he showed his trademark grit and determination to finish less than 0.2s behind reigning World Champion and factory Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo.
Colin Edwards will start from eighth position on the grid, the American also producing a gutsy performance as he rode through the pain barrier once again. Muscle damage around his right ribcage suffered in a crash at the Catalunya round in Spain three weeks ago was more problematic for the 37-year-old today as he set a best time of 1.35.818.
Like Crutchlow, he was experiencing difficulty tackling the fast changes of direction. But key improvements to the set-up of his YZR-M1 machine made him more comfortable and he is confident he can fight for a top six in tomorrow's race.
Position 6th - Time 1.35.329
“I was on the front row right at the end and it just got taken away, but I'm still really happy because I came here and didn't think I'd even be riding at this stage of the weekend. I thought I'd only be able to do a few laps because of my collarbone injury and here I am fighting for the front row. I think I went for it on my last soft tyre a little bit too early to be honest but I can't be disappointed. Sixth seems to be my position on the grid at the moment because that's the third race in a row I've started from that place. My shoulder is really sore now too. The 90-minute session this morning followed by another hour this afternoon means I can really feel the collarbone throbbing. The fast changes of direction are the biggest issue. Flicking the bike through some of those fast kinks is hard enough when you've got full strength, so for me having a big operation to plate my collarbone only last week, it is really difficult. To be honest I hope it rains for the race tomorrow, but I'll try my best for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team whatever the weather.”
With the extra 45 minutes this morning, it has been physically demanding.
Position 8th - Time 1.35.818 - Laps 25
“Riding in the dry made it pretty tough on my body today. With the extra 45 minutes this morning, it has been physically demanding. The collarbone I broke in Catalunya is fantastic but the damaged muscles around my ribs have hurt a lot today and made it hard to change direction. We changed a couple of things to the bike to make it more comfortable for me. The bike is more stable and easier to change direction and while it might not be an advantage for the lap time, it has certainly helped my ability to push more to my normal level. My lap times aren't terrible but in certain parts of the track it is hard to push. I just don't have the strength. Some of those changes of direction, you're flat-out in fifth gear and I just don't have the power to throw the bike around. Taking a deep breath was hard because of the ribs, but we got today out of the way and I might wake up tomorrow morning and miraculously feel better. I doubt that will be the case, but the race is a different thing. When the lights go out and the adrenaline kicks in, I probably won't feel a thing and I'll be giving it my maximum in the wet or the dry.”