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For the first time in 2016 Cal Crutchlow finished as the top Independent Team rider, taking fifth on the grid.
It was a difficult start to Saturday at the Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas for Cal Crutchlow, the Brit encountering several technical problems during Free Practice 3. He rode around the issues to head directly into Q2 as the fifth fastest rider and the second fastest Honda. After his mechanical issues, Crutchlow’s LCR Honda team overhauled the bike during the Free Practice 4 session. Ending in tenth, Crutchlow was uncertain about how he would go in Q2. In true Crutchlow style, he dug deep and produced a flying final lap of 2’04.265 to put him sixth in the session. Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) received a three-place grid penalty, promoting Crutchlow to fifth on the grid for Sunday’s race.
Not only was Crutchlow the top Independent Team rider, thus granting him his first trip to Parc Ferme in 2016, but he was also the second Honda rider. Crutchlow’s time was over a tenth faster than that of Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) who starts eighth. Starting from the second row should give Crutchlow a fighting chance of staying with the front group, the Brit not overly confident about his race pace. The opening two races have seen Crutchlow crash out twice.
Cal Crutchlow: “Today is a good day for us. The whole team did a fantastic job because we had some mechanical problems in the third free practice, and we had to change the whole bike in FP4. So it was a little tough to manage the situation but overall we are doing the best job with what we have. Tomorrow we have to look forward to the race because I think our pace isn’t too bad, and we should be competitive. It’s better to be on the second row for the start to give us a chance of getting away with the fastest riders.”