Cal Crutchlow was less than 0.4s away from claiming a stunning maiden front row MotoGP start in Assen today.
The British rider produced a heroic effort just 13 days after breaking his left collarbone in five places to finish sixth quickest in this afternoon’s qualifying session at the Circuit van Drenthe.
Crutchlow’s best time of 1.35.329 nearly secured him a brilliant top three as he defied the constant pain from his recovering left shoulder on board his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine.
That time put him in the top three in the final stages of the session, but a late surge from reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso bumped him back down to the second row.
Crutchlow will start from sixth position for the third successive race in his rookie MotoGP campaign, but he was thrilled to have finished top non-factory rider.
Today’s sessions were run in dry conditions as the MotoGP field dodged intermittent rain showers that fell throughout the day, adding to the physical demands on Crutchlow.
He was sixth quickest in wet conditions yesterday and the rain meant the stress of Crutchlow’s left shoulder was much less than in the dry.
The Coventry rider said: “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.”