Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow made a positive start to the Gran Premio d’Italia TIM at the fast and technical Mugello circuit in Italy today. Dovizioso was happy with the set-up work he carried out on his YZR-M1 machine, the Italian capitalising on hot conditions to show the speed that has seen him claim three stunning podium finishes in the last four races. Dovizioso made a positive start in front of his home crowd this morning and a lap of 1.49 .038 put him in sixth position on the timesheets.

Modifications to improve front-end feeling for the second session helped Dovizioso lower his lap time by 0.7s in hot and sunny conditions this afternoon. Temperatures reached 26 degrees, giving Dovizioso the perfect opportunity to evaluate Bridgestone’s hard rear tyre option, and he finished fifth on the combined timesheets with a best lap of 1.48.308. Dovizioso’s best time was only 0.232s behind pacesetter Jorge Lorenzo and having not yet opted to use Bridgestone’s soft compound rear tyre, he is confident he can be much faster in qualifying tomorrow to challenge for a front row grid position.

British rider Crutchlow was satisfied with the progress he made today and a lap of 1.49.023 put him fifth this morning. That was less than 0.2s outside of the top three. He needed just four laps in hot but windy conditions this afternoon to better his pace from the first practice session and a lap of 1.48.650 put the 26-year-old in an encouraging eighth position. Crutchlow was less than 0.2s behind reigning World Champion Casey Stoner in sixth and he is optimistic that he has plenty of margin to improve ahead of Sunday’s 23-lap race, which marks the halfway point of the 2012 MotoGP series.

Andrea Dovizioso – 5th 1.48.038 — 41 laps

“I am really happy with the way my home race has started. I arrive in Mugello in front of my home supporters full of confidence after the podiums in Assen and Sachsenring and we have made a positive start. We made a big improvement to the set-up of the bike this afternoon. I have more feeling with the front-end and I was much faster than in the morning, even though the conditions were worse. The temperature was hotter but the wind was much stronger this afternoon, so I’m happy to have improved by so much. The gap to Lorenzo is only 0.2s and I only used the hard tyres to focus on the race set-up for Sunday. We need to improve the bike to help the lap times comes a little bit easier but I am confident that we can find another big step like we did today.”

Cal Crutchlow – 8th 1.48.650 — 41 laps

“It was a decent day and my final position in eighth is probably not a true indication of my speed at the moment. I am sure I could be much faster but I didn’t really push for a fast time and concentrated a lot on work ing on the set-up for the race. There are a couple of areas we can improve the bike but I am confident we can do that and I will be fighting for a good grid position tomorrow. I lost a bit of time this morning with a small technical problem but I was still able to set a fast and consistent pace all day. My potential is definitely higher than eighth, so I am looking forward to tomorrow and carrying on the good work we have completed today.”