Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso began their preparations for the opening round of the new 1000cc MotoGP World Championship campaign in positive fashion in Qatar tonight, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders reeling off fast and competitive times throughout the opening practice session.
British rider Crutchlow produced one of the standout performances of the opening night at the floodlit Losail International Circuit, having led the timesheets shortly after the halfway point of the 45-minute practice session.
A lap of 1.57.601 rocketed the 26-year-old from 12th to first position and he was able to improve his pace to a 1.57.395 at the end of the session to finish in a hugely encouraging sixth position.Crutchlo w used just one soft compound rear Bridgestone tyre for the duration of the session and he is confident had he switched to fresh rubber in the final stages he could have posted an even more competitive lap time.
The former World Supersport champion though was the leading non-factory rider and his best time was less than 0.5s away from the top three.
Dovizioso was also satisfied with his evening's work, the experienced Italian continuing the process of learning how to get the best out of his YZR-M1 machine in less than ideal conditions.
Strong winds earlier in the day meant sand and dust had been blown onto the track from the surrounding desert landscape, and Dovizioso concentrated on improving rear grip on his way to setting the eighth fastest time.
His quickest lap of 1.57.547 was less than 0.2s behind Crutchlow and he is o ptimistic of making progress up the leaderboard with a cleaner track offering more grip tomorrow night.
Cal Crutchlow 6th 1.57.395 – 17 laps:
"That's not a bad way to start 2012 at all and I'm pretty happy to be in the top six. At the start of the session I was way down and not really going as quick as I should, but once I got my head down and got into a good rhythm I was always around the top six and that is very positive. I didn't change anything on the bike at all and I kept the same soft rear tyre on throughout, so I'm sure had we put in a new tyre at the end like some of the others did, I could have been a bit faster and possibly inside the top four. I'd like to get the bike turning better but I'm not going to complain starting the new season inside the top six. It is a good platform to build on for the rest of the weekend and now I'm really looking forward to the race on Su nday night."
Andrea Dovizioso 8th 1.57.512 – 16 laps:
"I'm satisfied with the first session and the feeling with the bike was immediately good. Straightaway I had a better feeling at the beginning than I did at the last test in Jerez, so we could work on improving the bike. I still need to understand how to use the maximum potential of the Yamaha. It has some very good points, which I like a lot, but I know in some parts I can be faster, particularly on the exit of the corner. We need to improve in that area but I know we have some good ideas for tomorrow and I am confident we will make the bike better. The gap to the front is quite big at the moment but tomorrow the conditions will be better and I am sure I will be much closer."
Press release courtesy of Monster Yamaha Tech 3