Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso produced dazzling performances under the spectacular Losail International Circuit floodlights in Qatar tonight to finish practice in second and fourth respectively. British rider Crutchlow was in sparkling form on the new Yamaha YZR-M1 1000cc machine and a best lap of 1.55.456 came tantalisingly close to claiming top spot in this evening’s third and final free practice session. The former World Supersport champion was only 0.154s behind 2010 World Champion Jorge Lorenz o on a fantastic night for Yamaha, with three YZR-M1 machines occupying the top four places.
Crutchlow’s brilliant display has given him confidence that he can be in contention for a maiden front row start when qualifying takes place tomorrow night. Italian Dovizioso also demonstrated the rapid progress he is making in getting the best out of the impressive YZR-M1 machine after he finished third quickest in the earlier second session, which took place in blustery conditions. A lap of 1.56.648 put him in the top three behind Casey Stoner and Lorenzo and he was able to improve his pace by 0.7s as grip levels improved after the strong winds decreased ahead of the third and final session. Dovizioso ended with a best lap of 1.55.905 to finish fourth quickest and he too will start tomorrow’s all-important q ualifying session optimistic that he can battle for a place on the front row of the grid for Sunday night’s season opening 22-lap race.
Cal Crutchlow – 2nd 1.55.456 — 18 laps:
“I’m really happy to be second quickest but I’m not going to get carried away and say I will be on the front row tomorrow night. I think we can certainly be challenging for it but my expectations for the race on Sunday are to be battling for the top six and being closer to the leaders than last year. The start of the session wasn’t that great because we went the wrong way with the chassis setting and once we went back to the previous set-up, I was much more comfortable. At the end I used the soft tyre but I had an old hard compound front on. I was pushing the front but I am really happy with the lap time. I got held up a little bit too on my fastest lap coming out of the last corner by one of the CRT bikes. It just meant I changed from third to fourth gear a bit later than normal and I lost a bit of drive. I’m not going to say that would have put my quickest, but it would have been very close. But to be second and just over one-tenth behind Jorge is great for my confidence. My Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew have done an awesome job, so hopefully we can battling for a similar position tomorrow night in qualifying.”
Andrea Dovizioso – 4th 1.55.905 — 18 laps
“I am really satisfied again with our performance tonight. Each session I go out on the bike my feeling with the Yamaha improves and I am gaining a lot of confidence. Even during a race weekend like this when you don’t have so many laps, we have made some very big improvements and this is very positive. We didn’t make any sp ecial changes to the bike but the improvement comes from me having a better understanding of how to use the Yamaha’s potential and now I am really confident for qualifying. Maybe the front row will be difficult but I will be trying my best. I am convinced our times will be faster because the track condition will be better and I know in myself where I can be faster on the track. Tonight was very positive for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team and I’ve no doubt that we will be as fast and competitive in qualifying.”