Cal Crutchlow was pretty satisfied with his first day of running at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit after finishing 13th quickest. The Briton is racing at the 4.801km track for the first time but finished within 0.303s of teammate Colin Edwards in tenth.
“I’m happy enough with my pace today because this is a really weird and difficult track with a lot of really hard braking points that makes it very physical”, he commented. “I’ve had a few arm pump issues this year but thankfully the surgery I had a few weeks ago has done the trick because today I had no problems at all. And if there was going to be an issue with my arms it was going to be at this track because of all the hard braking.”
With the lap times so close in the midfield, Crutchlow is confident of moving forward tomorrow, believing a place on the third row is possible.
“Unfortunately we’re lacking a bit of engine performance but there is nothing I can do about that. It is a bit of a disadvantage but I managed to find a second this afternoon, so that shows with more experience of the track I am able to make big progress. Track experience is vital because I beat Aoyama in Aragon a couple of weeks ago but today he is seventh fastest. I’m only three tenths from being inside the top 10, so if I can find that time tomorrow and get on the third row of the grid, I’ll be well happy with that.”
Edwards agreed that the characteristics of the circuit don't necessarily favour the YZR-M1 but tyre performance was his greatest issue as the American struggled for pace on the harder tyre.
“It was a decent start to the weekend without being anything too special. I was reasonably happy this morning to be seventh fastest and really close to the top six. But this afternoon we ran the hard tyre for the whole session and I didn’t really feel that good. I just can’t get the lap time out of it even though I can’t really pinpoint any specific issues with it. I can’t sit down with my crew and tell them where we’ve got problems, but it made the bike a little bit more nervous. I expected to be higher than 10th after this morning but this is a point and shoot track and there is no getting away from the fact that we are struggling on acceleration. At a track like this where there is a lot of low gear acceleration points it shows up more. Tomorrow we need to test the softer tyre for a little bit longer to make sure we can do race distance on it, but we’ll also be working harder to improve the set-up of the bike on the hard tyre to give us the best chance possible of a strong result for Yamaha on Sunday.”