This just in from Tech 3 Yamaha:
Crutchlow storms to sensational Sepang front row
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow made a welcome return to the front row of the grid in Malaysia this afternoon, the British rider dodging rain showers throughout the second day at Sepang to finish third fastest in a dramatic conclusion to qualifying.
Rain showers had fallen on and off throughout today's proceedings and when a downpour fell just minutes before the start of QP2, it looked like the 15-minute session would be disrupted by rain.
Fortunately it was only a very short cloudburst but the session commenced with some corners still damp. Crutchlow though superbly calculated where he could push hard to battle for a third pole position throughout a tense and exciting QP2.
A lap of 2.01.801 put Crutchlow on top of the rankings by just 0.006s over Dani Pedrosa shortly after the halfway stage. And in a frantic last lap sprint in improving conditions, the 27-year-old improved his pace to a 2.00.359 to clinch a deserved spot on the front row of the grid for the seventh time in 2013.
Today's QP2 session was also a positive experience for rookie Bradley Smith, who too mastered the unpredictable track conditions with supreme confidence to score his best qualifying result since the Czech Republic round in August.
The 22-year-old got a massive confidence in the earlier FP4 session when he set the seventh best time and he took that impressive form into QP2. A best lap of 2.01.306 was just over 0.3s away from clinching a second row start and he will start the physically demanding 20-lap race from seventh position.
Cal Crutchlow 3rd 2.00.359 - 7 laps:
"I am really happy to be back on the front row because it was not an easy session at all. It was hard with a dark visor to see where the track was wet and in some corners it was pretty tricky. It was a bit of a lottery with the damp sections and I think it came down to who was willing to take the most risks right at the end when the track was improving. Today's result is a great reward for my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew because they have done a brilliant job giving me a very competitive package this weekend. It has been tough for me physically because of the pain coming from my right arm. I first damaged it at Silverstone but the pain has been pretty bad this weekend and I'm a bit surprised because I felt nothing in Misano and Aragon. The swelling is pretty big but I am really motivated for tomorrow's race. It is going to be a very tough race in the heat and humidity but hopefully I can put up a good fight. It will be hard for the tyres as well because 20-laps is a long race and the tyres have been going off quite quickly."
Bradley Smith 7th 2.01.306 - 7 laps:
"Today was the first opportunity to see how much I have improved compared to the tests I did here in February. Qualifying was the first time all weekend when I ran low fuel and new tyres like we did in testing and I am happy with the performance to finish seventh. The conditions were not ideal at all and it was a bit sketchy at Turn 6 and 7 after the rain showers. The team though did a great job and I've done some longer runs to check tyre life and I'm happy in that area. We have also improved my feeling with a full fuel load, so hopefully I can have a strong race. It will be hard to fight for the top six but my aim will be to get a good start and go with the leading group in the early stages to try and learn as much as possible. A big plus this weekend has been that we have improved in every session and made good progress with the bike set-up, so I've got more confidence for the race than normal."