Cal Crutchlow gave himself a great opportunity to score a second successive MotoGP podium after claiming a place on the front row of the grid for the fifth time in 2012 at Misano today.
The Coventry rider will start behind Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo in third place on the grid after he clocked a best time of 1.34.001 in a dry qualifying session this afternoon.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider had only completed 10 laps prior to the qualifying session after rain disrupted practice, but Crutchlow was only 0.144s away from securing a maiden MotoGP pole position.
Crutchlow became the first British rider to stand on a MotoGP podium in 12 years at the last race in Brno when he finished behind Pedrosa and Lorenzo and he is hoping for a repeat in tomorrow’s 28-lap clash.
He told MCN: “Obviously I want to get a podium but one of my aims is to reduce the gap to the leaders and tomorrow that is going to be very difficult because of the track condition, the nature of the circuit and because our bike is slower in acceleration. Brno suited our bike a little more because you could keep it rolling but stop and start stuff with our bike like here is not the best. But I'll give my all and see where I finish."
With no dry track time until qualifying, no rider has had the chance to properly assess tyre wear and the former World Supersport champion added: "If I can get away with the guys tomorrow I'll be pleased because they are going to go fast, there is no doubt about it, they will be under today's times every lap I think. But nobody has done more than five laps in row, so 28 laps is a little different. Let's see what happens but hopefully I can get a good start and get away with them. I think we can run up front for a while but let's see if we can do it for the whole race.”
Crutchlow’s front row start at least gives him the best possible chance of avoiding any potential for carnage at the tight first two corners at the Misano circuit, which was renamed after Marco Simoncelli in 2012 in memory of the late Italian star.
He added: "Nobody needs to be hero. You have to consider that their championship is close. If you stay in the top three then that will be very helpful for the race tomorrow. It is a tight first corner and then the change of direction into Turn 2 is difficult and we have seen a few incidents. But these are the top MotoGP riders in the world and they want to get to the front as fast as possible. If I can get a good start like in Brno then maybe we can get dragged away with those two (Pedrosa and Lorenzo). It will be a tough race and everybody I’m sure will be calm in the first couple of corners.”