Monster Yamaha Tech3 riders Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith will start Sunday’s Tissot Australian Grand Prix race from sixth and seventh respectively, after both mounted a strong challenge for the front row in a record-breaking qualifying session.
Crutchlow was less than 0.2s away from registering his eighth front row start in 2013, while teammate Smith was only 0.132s behind his colleague in seventh position on a challenging day at the spectacular Phillip Island track.
Both Tech3 riders were able to lap just a fraction outside of Casey Stoner’s 2008 pole position benchmark - in a record-breaking session that saw World Champion Jorge Lorenzo obliterate the outright record with a sensational lap of 1.27.899.
Crutchlow’s best lap of 1’28.809 was only 0.061s behind Sepang winner Dani Pedrosa, whilst Smith’s best time was a 1’28.941.
Crutchlow admitted, "I am pretty disappointed with today’s result because I expected to be higher up than sixth. I wasn’t far off the front row and was pretty close to Valentino in third but the gap to Jorge in pole position is really big and I thought I’d be much closer. I’ve not had enough rear grip and I was lacking confidence to push. I think we can clearly improve the bike and myself."
"In FP4 I did the whole session on the extra hard tyre on the recommendation of Bridgestone but we know there is a question mark for the race tomorrow. We need to listen to Bridgestone’s advice on what tyre will be raced but I am sure my pace is better than sixth."
Meanwhile, Crutchlow’s teammate Smith added, "It has obviously been quite a confusing day with the soft tyre not being an option for the race tomorrow, but at least we could use it in practice and qualifying. I have been happy with the bike today. It has felt much better and I like how it was reacting. I really concentrated on making sure my first flying lap was a good one and at the end I am really happy to finish with a 28.9 because yesterday I wasn’t even sure if I could get into the 29s."
"I am not far off the front row at all and we have done a good job. Now we have got to wait and see what happens with the tyre situation for tomorrow’s race because it seems there is a lot of uncertainty around. I am looking forward to the race and my target will be to battle with Cal and Bautista."