Cal Crutchlow produced one of the performances of the opening day's practice in Qatar by going sixth fastest on the Tech 3 Yamaha. The Briton was fastest of all with 20 minutes of the session remaining and finished less than a second off the pace of Casey Stoner.
Crutchlow felt he could've gone even faster if he'd bolted on some new tyres at the end of the session and sees plenty of potential in the YZR-M1 heading into the rest of the weekend.
“That’s not a bad way to start 2012 at all and I’m pretty happy to be in the top six. At the start of the session I was way down and not really going as quick as I should, but once I got my head down and got into a good rhythm I was always around the top six and that is very positive. I didn’t change anything on the bike at all and I kept the same soft rear tyre on throughout, so I’m sure had we put in a new tyre at the end like some of the others did, I could have been a bit faster and possibly inside the top four. I’d like to get the bike turning better but I’m not going to complain starting the new season inside the top six. It is a good platform to build on for the rest of the weekend and now I’m really looking forward to the race on Sunday night.”
Teammate Andrea Dovizioso was eighth fastest and also felt comfortable straight away with the Yamaha, despite it being his first taste of the bike in an official practice session. The Italian sees areas where he can improve and expects to close in on the leaders tomorrow.
“I’m satisfied with the first session and the feeling with the bike was immediately good. Straightaway I had a better feeling at the beginning than I did at the last test in Jerez, so we could work on improving the bike. I still need to understand how to use the maximum potential of the Yamaha. It has some very good points, which I like a lot, but I know in some parts I can be faster, particularly on the exit of the corner. We need to improve in that area but I know we have some good ideas for tomorrow and I am confident we will make the bike better. The gap to the front is quite big at the moment but tomorrow the conditions will be better and I am sure I will be much closer.”