Cal Crutchlow was less than 0.3s behind reigning World Champion Lorenzo and Mugello specialist Rossi
British rider Cal Crutchlow played a starring role on an opening day of practice for the Gran Premio d’Italia TIM that was dominated by Yamaha at the fast and technical Mugello track.
Full of confidence after storming to a career best second position last time out in Le Mans, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider set a personal best time of 1.48.672 in cool and overcast conditions to help Yamaha claim a fantastic clean sweep of the top three places.
Crutchlow was less than 0.3s behind reigning World Champion Lorenzo and Mugello specialist Rossi and no other rider was able to lap within 0.7s of the former World Supersport Champion's impressive pace.
A hugely promising day’s work by Bradley Smith unfortunately ended in painful fashion when the rookie fell heavily while trying to consolidate an excellent eighth position on the timesheets.
Smith had superbly negotiated the tricky track conditions this morning to set the sixth fastest time, and relishing the challenge of powering his YZR-M1 machine round the undulating and high-speed Mugello track, he was lapping inside the top 10 again in FP2.
Confident he could improve on his eighth position he was pushing hard when he fell exiting Turn 15. The 22-year-old fell heavily on his left side and he needed lengthy treatment in the Medical Centre to assess a suspected left arm injury, though no bones were broken in the nasty spill.
Smith did though suffer an open wound to his left little finger after his hand was momentarily trapped under his machine. The injury will not prevent him from participating in Sunday’s race but he will require a skin graft on Monday to repair the damage.
Cal Crutchlow, 3rd, Time - 1.48.672, 33 laps: “That was a very positive start to the weekend and I am happy to be in the top three and close to the best pace. This morning was quite tricky with the damp patches but I was fast on the wet tyres and happy with the feeling of the bike. This afternoon I was able to be in the top three in the dry and that is also very positive, but it is going to be very difficult to beat Jorge and Valentino.
Jorge is looking for a third straight win here, so he is very fast on this track, and Valentino obviously has some special motivation for his home race. But I am the best of the rest again, which is a good sign and we’ve still got some things to try to improve the bike. I’m not completely confident in some corners but I know my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew has some good ideas to help me improve.
It could be tricky conditions tomorrow though if we get some rain that’s been forecast, but after my second place in Le Mans and the good feeling I had in FP1 on the wet tyres, I am still very optimistic.”