Cal Crutchlow believes he has the capability to challenge for the podium in tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix despite the strength of the riders ahead of him. The Briton, still battling illness, qualified fourth behind the two Repsol Hondas and Jorge Lorenzo’s factory Yamaha and although he acknowledges Stoner will be too fast, he is hopeful of chasing the Spaniards in the race.

‘We made some good improvements to the bike today and fortunately I am feeling better too. I’m still not 100% but I have been resting as much as possible and I am improving each day. It was good to have the bike feeling better today as well, although I wasn’t pushing too hard for the whole session. I used an old soft rear tyre that I’d run in this morning’s practice just to check my pace at the start of the session. I’m really happy because my times were fast and consistent even when the rear tyre had over 30 laps on it. That bodes well for the race tomorrow and I’m confident if I can run the same pace I’ll be in the podium hunt. On a new soft tyre I think I could have gone a bit faster but I got held up. Fourth is still a good result and I’m looking forward to a good battle in tomorrow’s race, though based on what we’ve seen so far, Casey is on another planet and nobody will get close to him.”

After qualifying sixth, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammate Andrea Dovizioso will head into the race with very similar ambitions although he felt a lack of grip prevented him from qualifying higher.

“The session started very well and I was quickly into a fast pace that put me inside the top three. My race pace is around the mid-31s and that should be competitive enough to be battling for a podium tomorrow. The problem came when I tried to improve my time on a new soft rear tyre. Immediately it was sliding around a lot and it didn’t have the grip I was expecting. I just didn’t have a good feeling and it was impossible to push like I wanted. We need to analyse what might have caused that, so considering I couldn’t go any faster on a new soft rear tyre at the end of the session, I’m pretty pleased to still be in the top six. We have improved the bike in every session and I am confident I will be battling for the podium.”