Cal Crutchlow says he is anticipating a tough battle in tomorrow’s Catalunya MotoGP race after he qualified on the front row of the grid for the third time in 2012 earlier today.
The 26-year-old will start from third place after finishing behind reigning world champion Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo in an exciting qualifying session.
In his previous two front row starts, Crutchlow has finished fourth in Qatar and fifth in Estoril after epic race long battles with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Andrea Dovizioso.
But he said he doubts whether he will only be dicing with Italian Dovizioso tomorrow, with the race pace of several riders behind likely to put them into contention for a top five result.
The former World Supersport champion told MCN: “I don’t think it will be just between Andrea and me. I think it will be between about seven others because (Stefan) Bradl has got the pace and so has (Alvaro) Bautista. I would say Jorge has got the best pace. It will be difficult to be on the podium because Dani (Pedrosa) will be there and also Ben (Spies).”
Crutchlow said his main goal for the opening half of the race will be to stay in contention for a podium before tyre management becomes a pivotal factor.
Baking hot conditions have seen Bridgestone’s soft tyre lose grip quickly in practice and qualifying, though Crutchlow said he is unable to use the harder option on his YZR-M1 machine.
He added: “I want to stay with them at the beginning of the race because I think my advantage could come when the tyres start moving around. I’ve been used to it for so many years. When it comes to them last eight laps when everybody is really struggling, if we are there then we can perhaps do a better job.”
Commenting on how the loss in grip has an impact on riding his YZR-M1, the Coventry rider said: “They go completely and drop and drop but the lap time seems to stay the same. The bike becomes vicious to ride and it is not necessarily the rear moving but it pushes the front and you lose the front at the end because you’ve got no rear grip. But the hard tyre for me doesn’t work. We get chatter on gas and our bike doesn’t put enough load on the tyre because our bike is so neutral it needs quite a load. With no lead the rear just spins up and wants to come round.”