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Le Mans: Crutchlow 'not our best day', Smith 'closer than usual'

17 May 2013

Cal Crutchlow finished the opening pair of free practice sessions for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team's home Le Mans event less than half-a-second from the top of the timesheets.

But on a day of ultra-close lap times, that was only good enough for sixth position and second of the non-factory riders, behind LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl.

Crutchlow - the best satellite rider in every race so far this year - looked frustrated at missing his braking point during the afternoon session and later confirmed there are handling issues to solve.

“We did not have our best day today and I'm not really happy with how things started this weekend,” said the Englishman. “We experimented quite a lot with the bike and made it shorter and longer but we did not find an ideal setting yet.

“We have a lot of chatter and not too much grip, so clearly we are struggling quite a bit at the moment because the other guys seem to improve while I feel the same as on the first lap out there this morning.

“So we still have a lot of work to do tonight and we have to improve in several areas. I'm having an issue with the brakes but we are still confident for tomorrow and I am sure we can improve to put on a good show in such a big race for Tech 3 and Monster Energy.”

Rookie team-mate Bradley Smith experienced a big 'moment' during morning practice, running through the gravel trap at turn one. The Englishman held on and, using a new Yamaha chassis, moved from 15th in the fist session to eleventh in the second.

Smith was 1.327s behind pace setter Dani Pedrosa and 0.85s slower than Crutchlow after his first day on an M1 at Le Mans.

“Today was a good first day in Le Mans,” he said. “I started to feel a lot more confident this afternoon compared to this morning because there was extra grip on track thanks to the higher track temperature.

“We found almost 1.5s and that's really positive. I like this circuit a lot, especially with a MotoGP bike and the differences compared to a smaller bike seem to be not that big compared to the other tracks I have experienced so far. I just have to understand the different braking points like in the first corner where I've already made three mistakes so far. But now I think I understood where the limit is.

“But it was a good day and we are closer than usual to the top after day one and I really feel confident with the new chassis, especially on new tyres, so we will work hard tonight and hopefully go straight into the second qualifying session tomorrow.”


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