Cal Crutchlow rode through the pain barrier in Qatar tonight to finish the opening practice for the season’s first race at the Losail International Circuit in 14th position.
Riding in excruciating pain just three days after he lost the tip off his left little finger in a crash during the night test in Doha earlier this week, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider produced a heroic performance in the first 45-minute session.
Using a modified Spidi glove and revised clutch level on his YZR-M1 machine, the 2009 World Supersport champion clocked a best time of 1.57.429 to finish just over 0.5s from the team-mate Colin Edwards.
He said: “That was not easy at all and being honest, the pain from the finger is really bad and it was tough to ride. The crash was only three days ago and when I took the bandage off tonight, I learned there's some nerve damage where the fingernail was.
"The pain when the bandage came off was something I can't describe, so considering how uncomfortable it is, I'm pretty pleased to be where I am and doing some decent times.
"I was having trouble using the clutch so I modified the lever, but I was still having some problems shifting, particularly at the first corner when I kept going down to first instead of second. That was costing me time but I couldn't do anything about it.”
Crutchlow was boosted by a late front-end change, his crew altering the steering head angle of his YZR-M1 machine to improve turning performance.
He was able to lap nearly 0.5s faster than he managed during the test earlier this week and he added: “We made a change to the front-end at the end of the session that we haven't tried since Sepang and it felt night and day different.
"I was much faster and felt much more comfortable because I felt like the front tyre was loaded more in the corner and I could turn better.
"I'm looking forward to working more with the new front-end set-up tomorrow because I believe we can make another step and hopefully the finger will be a little bit better too."