Britain's Cal Crutchlow toasted his new contract with the Tech 3 Yamaha team in sensational style as he powered to second place on the grid at Brno in the Czech Republic.
It was the MotoGP
star's best qualifying performance to date – and what a way to celebrate his one-year extension with Herve Poncharal's satellite Yamaha outfit.
The 26-year-old's fastest lap was just 0.196s behind pole man Jorge Lorenzo
on the factory YZR-M1 and Crutchlow must feel his maiden rostrum MotoGP
finish is within his grasp tomorrow.
Crutchlow bounced back from a minor crash as he hunted down title favourite Lorenzo to cut the Spaniard's deficit at the top of the timesheets and reignite fresh hopes of a dream podium result.
His fastest lap was achieved on his spare machine, putting him 0.332s ahead of Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa
in third place to secure his first front row start since the Catalunya round in early June.
Crutchlow said: “I am really happy to have scored my best ever qualifying result in MotoGP
and the timing couldn't be better after I signed a new contract with Yamaha Tech 3 earlier today.
“This was the perfect way to immediately repay the faith shown in me.
“Once again today we demonstrated what a competitive package we have and that is one of the big reasons why I committed my future to the Yamaha Tech 3 team.”
Reflecting on his crash, Crutchlow said he “hit the only bump on the whole track” halfway through the session.
“Yesterday in practice we did a good job to be in contention for the top three and I was confident that we could be very fast and competitive this afternoon.
“Unfortunately I made a silly mistake about halfway through the session and crashed. I think I hit the only bump on the whole track but it meant I had to finish the session on my spare bike,” Crutchlow said.
“The crashed bike had my preferred set-up but I quickly adapted and went back out and improved my times by a good margin.”
And although Crutchlow must be hoping tomorrow will be the day he stands on the MotoGP
podium for the first time, the Coventry man isn't making any big predictions.
“I am second on the grid and close to Jorge so I am looking forward to the race tomorrow,” he said.
“It is going to be tough but I am confident we can have a strong result and be fighting for a top five.”