Cal Crutchlow continued his momentum from fourth-place finishes in the opening 2012 MotoGP rounds with a third place performance during Friday practice at Estoril in Portugal.

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider began the day with sixth in the damp morning practice, featuring 'dangerous' slick patches through the final turn, then ran at the front for much of the dryer afternoon session.

The Briton finished Friday as the top satellite rider and was only 0.025sec behind the Factory Yamaha of Ben Spies. Crutchlow's pace was 0.346s off the fastest time set by reigning world champion Casey Stoner (Honda).

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"I'm happy with the way we have started this weekend," said Crutchlow. "This morning was similar to the first session in Jerez and we couldn't really learn anything with the track being so damp in parts. The problem was the patches were really big at the last corner and to be honest it was pretty dangerous, so we might have to look at that in the Safety Commission.

"We never changed the tyres from this morning to the afternoon and that is a big plus. For that reason I'm really happy with the pace I was able to set, especially because we know that some other guys did put in a new tyre at the end to go a bit quicker. We were just concentrating on working on the race set-up and we still have plenty of margin to improve.

"The first two races have given me a lot of confidence and I am looking forward to carrying on the good start this weekend."

Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso tried a different swingarm this afternoon on his way to tenth place.

"We tried a different swingarm on the second bike during my last run and when we made this modification we also changed the rear tyre, but it did not get to the right temperature," explained the Italian.

"We tried to find out if the swingarm or the tyre was the problem but because of this situation we lost quite a lot of time and I am a bit frustrated because until that moment we were close to the fastest time.

"I was feeling well on the bike and I was sure I still had some margin to improve my time. It is important to try the parts to help us improve and we will be in a better situation tomorrow. I just hope that we will have good weather to continue the work we started this afternoon."