Crutchlow "optimistic" after qualifying P5

British rider comes through Q1 to claim solid grid slot, with the LCR man also having a new setting to try in Warm Up

LCR Honda Castrol’s Cal Crutchlow progressed through Q1 to put in an impressive Q2 performance at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan, with P5 his highest position on the grid since his front row at the Americas GP.

The British rider, along with Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team), has found the going tough on board the 2019 RC213V for the majority of the season. However, Saturday’s qualifying performance was a good boost for the gritty 33-year-old at the first of three back-to-back weekends, and the number 35 revealed he has a new setting to try on the bike in Warm Up ahead of the race.

“I think we’ve found some improvements yeah but I was able to take advantage of the Q1 session to get some track knowledge, but when you’re racing against these guys – the fastest guys in the world – the track knowledge doesn’t really matter,” began Crutchlow. “They understand the conditions very fast as well. But I tried my best, I pushed as hard as I could in that lap at the end and I was able to be on the second row of the grid. I also made a couple of mistakes in the lap and we’ll have to see tomorrow.

“That’s always the aim, but I don’t know whether I’m going to be on the podium or 15th, I have no idea at the minute,” continued the Brit, when asked if a repeat of last year’s Japanese GP podium is on the cards in 2019. “We’ll have to look at the situation in the morning warm up because we have a different bike to try, a different setting of the bike to try, because today we weren’t able to try it so we just used what we had in the practices for the qualifying. So today was a little bit of a wasted day with setup but I’m optimistic about what we’ll try in the morning.”

Although a difficult task, a third podium of the season would go down a treat for Crutchlow and his LCR Honda Castrol crew. Will that setting help bring Crutchlow back towards the front, and maybe challenge for a rostrum return?

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