Cal Crutchlow was pleased with the start he made to the Qatar Grand Prix weekend although he has warned against reading too much into Thursday’s times. The Briton was second fastest between the two factory Yamahas, just 0.058s off the pace, but expects the times to tumble as the circuit rubbers in and wouldn’t be surprised if he falls back slightly in qualifying.
“It was a very good first session on a personal level with me finishing second and also for Yamaha with a clean sweep of the top three. As is always the case on the first night in Qatar the track was quite dirty, particularly off the racing line. Even on the racing line it was quite slippery but I am happy to be right in the mix from the start. We need to make some changes to the bike for tomorrow because I felt we had too much weight transfer on braking and acceleration but I’ve got to be happy to finish in second and ending up in between Jorge and Valentino. Second place is great but I am not reading too much into it. As the track conditions improve some of the rest will get faster and it is still going to be very tough to be on the podium. I am looking forward to the race and being so competitive from the start certainly gives my confidence another lift and helps me carry on the momentum gained in testing.”
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammate Bradley Smith was eleventh fastest in his first official session as a MotoGP rider and the debutant is happy with his current position, although he is mindful that he needs to improve to ensure he has a safe passage through into QP2 on Saturday.
“I’m really happy with my performance in my very first practice session in MotoGP. It’s nice just to get rid of the initial nerves and tension that has been building up as you get ready for the beginning of the season. With such little time on track in 45 minutes we didn’t tweak the bike too much. I just wanted to get familiar with the track because the lines and braking points are completely different to what I am used to in Moto2. Being on track with the rest of the field at the same time helps because I can pick up some pointers and I’ll watch a video of the session again to understand where I can improve and be faster for FP2 and FP3, where it will be important to finish in the top 10 for the new qualifying format. I’m satisfied with my position though and I am not a million miles behind Nicky and 1.6s off the best pace is the closest I have been since I first rode this bike, so that shows I am moving in the right direction.”