Cal Crutchlow fought off a heavy cold to finish just over 0.1s away from claiming a starting position on the third row of the grid for tomorrow’s Japanese MotoGP race at the end of a closely contested qualifying session at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit.
The British rider will start the 15th round of the 2011 World Championship from 12th on the grid after yet another encouraging performance on board the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine.
Crutchlow’s best time of 1.46.818 was almost 0.3s quicker than the 2010 pole position time and his pace was less than 0.4s away from Valentino Rossi in seventh position. Today’s result was reward for Crutchlow’s determination after he was struck by a nasty head cold overnight, which left the 25-year-old with a severe sore throat.
Crutchlow is hoping a good night’s rest will help him return to 100 per cent as he looks to continue his fine recent run of form in tomorrow’s 24-lap race. He is seeking a third successive top 10 finish to strengthen his bid for the coveted Rookie of the Year title.
Today’s qualifying session, which took place in much cooler conditions compared to practice yesterday, didn’t go according to plan for experienced team-mate Colin Edwards.
The 37-year-old had high hopes of a strong performance after claiming a season best fifth place at the Twin Ring Motegi last year. Edwards qualified fifth in 2010 but despite lapping 0.3s faster this afternoon, his best time of 1.47.165 could only secure him 14th on the grid for Yamaha’s all-important home race.
Edwards suffered an early setback when he crashed with only a quarter of the 60-minute session completed. Edwards ran off the track at Turn 3 while pushing hard to improve his pace on his eighth lap. He ran into the gravel at high speed and despite his best efforts he was unable to keep his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team machine upright.
He quickly adjusted to a different front-end geometry setting on his spare YZR-M1 machine to finish just over 0.3s behind Crutchlow.
Cal Crutchlow 12th 1.46.818 – 25 laps:
“I’m a bit disappointed to be back in 12th when you look how close I am to the third row. But I can’t be too upset because I feel well below my physical best today. All last night I was coughing and sneezing and I’ve been drinking about eight litres of water today and I still feel dehydrated. My throat feels like I’ve swallowed gravel but I still managed to go out there and lap faster than last year’s pole time. I can’t really ask for much more than that on a circuit I’ve never even seen before in my life. I might have been a bit further up the grid but on my last soft tyre I nearly high-sided coming out of the first corner. It was a big moment because I struggled to get heat into the tyre out of the pits. I still got in one more lap on that final tyre and managed to set my best time, so now I’m looking forward to the race and hoping I can have another good battle like I did at the Motorland Aragon. That was a lot of fun but also helped me learn a lot, so I’ll be looking to be in a fight for the top 10.”
Colin Edwards 14th 1.47.165 – 22 laps:
“I had high hopes coming to Japan because last year I got my best grid position and my best result of the Championship at the Twin Ring Motegi. But it just hasn’t worked out at all so far this weekend and I’m just not quick enough. I’m faster than I qualified last year but still nine places further back down the grid, so that shows how much the competition has stepped up this season. The early crash didn’t help the session run smoothly and I haven’t made a mistake as bad as that in a long time. I just completely missed my braking marker and that was all because I was pushing too hard to get more out of the bike. Looking at the lap times it is obvious that our bike doesn’t turn or accelerate as good as the rest and that means you have to ride on the ragged edge a lot. The strange part is that the bike feels fine. It is not doing anything crazy but I can’t get it to go round the track any faster. The target will be to fight for the top 10 tomorrow, but a repeat of fifth like last year unfortunately doesn’t look like it’s a realistic aim.”
Popularity: 1% [?]