Cal Crutchlow’s brilliant form in the 2013 MotoGP world championship continued in Mugello when he starred in a Yamaha clean sweep of the top three after today’s two opening practice sessions.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider set a best time of 1.48.672 in cool and cloudy conditions to be beaten only by factory Yamaha duo Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.
Spaniard Lorenzo took top spot by just 0.034s from teammate Rossi with a brilliant last lap attack to set a best of 1.48.375 as he goes in search of a third successive victory at Mugello.
Rossi, who was a lowly 19th on a surface littered with damp patches in this morning’s FP1, led for long periods in FP2 and his best lap of 1.48.409 beat Crutchlow into third by 0.263s.
Nicky Hayden was an encouraging fourth on the Ducati Desmosedici, with world championship leader Dani Pedrosa finishing in fifth with a best lap of 1.49.383 leaving him 1.008s off Lorenzo’s best pace.
The second session was an incident-packed affair with title contender Marc Marquez and fellow class rookie Bradley Smith suffering huge crashes.
Marquez’s accident in the braking zone for the first corner was a terrifying experience for the reigning Moto2 world champion.
The approach to the first corner is taken flatout in sixth gear with speeds in excess of 210mph. Marquez had actually set the top speed today of 212.50mph when he lost control of his factory RC213V shortly after hitting the brakes.
He veered onto the grass before losing control but luckily he escaped serious injury despite coming close to clipping a trackside concrete wall. He suffered neck and chin injuries but will be fit to take part in tomorrow's track action.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Smith fell heavily at Turn 15 while he was lying in an encouraging eighth position.
The British rider had set a best time of 1.50.103 when he lost control of his YZR-M1 on a new Bridgestone rear tyre that had not yet reached optimum working temperature.
He landed heavily on his left side and after his left hand got trapped under his YZR-M1 machine, he has lost most of the skin off his little finger.
The Oxfordshire rider plans to race on Sunday but his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad confirmed he will need a skin graft on Monday to repair the extensive damage.
Michael Laverty was 23rd on the British-built PBM chassis with a best time of 1.53.480.