Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team riders Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith will start inside the top 10 on the grid together for the third race in succession after a tense and exciting qualifying battle at the spectacular Laguna Seca track this afternoon.
An eventful afternoon for Crutchlow began when the on form British rider recovered from a heavy fall at Turn 3 to finish third quickest in FP4.
Confident he had the speed to secure a fourth consecutive front row start in the 15-minute QP2, the 27-year-old’s second YZR-M1 machine encountered a minor technical problem that prevented him from taking to the track with the rest of the field.
His Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew were able to rectify the issue and Crutchlow was quickly able to make up for lost time and put up a tremendous fight for a fifth front row start of the campaign.
He clocked a personal best lap of 1.21.420 that was only 0.047s away from the top three and tomorrow’s 32-lap race promises to be an epic battle with the top six split by just 0.277s in a closely contested qualifying session.
Smith’s seventh successive top 10 position in qualifying was a great reward for the hard work and effort his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew have been putting in to help him feel comfortable and confident on the tight and technically challenging California track.
Smith has made excellent progress throughout his first experience of the US Grand Prix and his best time of 1.22.075 was almost 0.7s faster than he’d managed earlier in the weekend.
He finished just 0.899s off pole position and he has been able to set an impressive pace in full race trim throughout the weekend, raising expectations for another positive result in tomorrow’s race.
Cal Crutchlow 5th 1.21.420 – 7 laps :
“Today has been a tough day, so still to be on the second row of the grid is not too bad considering what has happened. I crashed on my first lap out of the pits in FP4 and we need to check the front tyre because I wasn’t even pushing. It was strange but we will sit down and analyse the data with Bridgestone to identify what happened. Unfortunately the bike couldn’t be repaired in time and we had a small technical problem with the second bike at the start of QP2. We are still checking to see what happened but it meant I only really got one flying lap in. I am fifth and very close to the front row but it is still my worst qualifying result of the season and it is a bit disappointing. But I am optimistic for the race. The times are incredibly close and as always the goal will be to fight for the podium.”
Bradley Smith 9th 1.22.075 – 10 laps :
“I am very happy with the improvement in my lap times all weekend. To do a 1.22.0 was a great step and I have to say a big thanks to my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew because they did a brilliant job in improving the bike. I felt we had been going round in circles with the set-up a little bit but the bike felt great in QP2 and we really made a big step. This is not an easy track and tomorrow’s race is going to be really tough over 32-laps. It is always crucial to get a good start but tomorrow it will be essential because I believe I can learn a lot in the race. If I can find another couple of tenths from myself then I can stay in a fight and gain a lot of experience and that’s what I need more than anything. I am happy with my race pace and I am looking forward to the race.”
Source: Tech3 Communications
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