Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow made an impressively fast return to MotoGP action in Portugal today, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders lapping consistently inside the top ten during the opening day of practice at the Estoril track.
Forecasts had predicted rain for the opening day of the Portuguese Grand Prix but both sessions took place on a full dry track with temperatures this afternoon nudging close to 25 degrees.
Rookie Crutchlow produced another fantastic performance that not only showcased his ability learn and master new tracks quickly, but the British rider also demonstrated his determination to ride at 100 per cent despite facing a gruelling physical test.
During the long break following the postponement of the Japanese Grand Prix, Crutchlow underwent surgery to solve a numbness issue in his right hand that occurred during the first two races in Qatar and Jerez. But Crutchlow was struck by a chronic arm pump issue again this morning and he needed a large build-up of fluid draining from his right arm in the Clinica Mobile ahead of the second session.
A modified handlebar position helped Crutchlow feel much more comfortable on his YZR-M1 machine this afternoon and he was unlucky not to finish inside the top seven after a brilliant performance.
He was as high as seventh in the final stages when he was unfortunate to be bumped down the order to 13th. He ended with a best time of 1.38.912 having knocked nearly 1.5s off from his best time from this morning and he was only 0.5s behind Edwards and marginally over a second away from the fastest pace set by Marco Simoncelli.
Cal Crutchlow 13th 1.38.760 – 38 laps
“I’m really happy because to be only a second off the pace on a track I’ve never seen before gives me a lot of confidence. I honestly feel I should have kept that seventh place because I made a late change to the bike and everybody went quicker. I could have gone quicker once I was back on track but I encountered a lot of traffic and it was like a 125 session! I got held up and that cost me at least a couple of tenths, which would have easily put me in the top ten. This track is much harder to learn than Jerez. It is quite bumpy and you have to be so precise with your lines that it has been quite difficult. But I’m only 0.5s behind Colin and he has a good record at this track. After this morning I didn’t think I’d be so fast because I was really struggling with my arm. There was a massive build-up of fluid at the end of the session that I had to get drained and I’m not sure why it has happened. I rode a motocross bike last week without any drama, but the brake pressure on a MotoGP bike is incredible. We moved the handlebars out for this afternoon and it was definitely better and I felt more confident on the brakes, but at the end I’ve got another big fluid bump on my forearm.”
Source: Team Tech3
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