Fresh from his career-best MotoGP result last time out at Le Mans, Cal Crutchlow picked up where he left off on the first day of free practice for the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello with a top three showing in second free practice.

Up to fourth in the overall standings after finishing second in France, Crutchlow joined several of his rivals by maintaining a low profile during the damp FP1, but was up to speed again in the dry FP2 session to end up in third position.

Chasing factory Yamaha counterparts Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, Crutchlow was pleased to be straight on the pace as he looks to consolidate his status as 'best of the rest' this weekend.

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"That was a very positive start to the weekend and I am happy to be in the top three and close to the best pace. This morning was quite tricky with the damp patches but I was fast on the wet tyres and happy with the feeling of the bike.

"This afternoon I was able to be in the top three in the dry and that is also very positive, but it is going to be very difficult to beat Jorge and Valentino.

"Jorge is looking for a third straight win here, so he is very fast on this track, and Valentino obviously has some special motivation for his home race. But I am the best of the rest again, which is a good sign and we've still got some things to try to improve the bike.

"I'm not completely confident in some corners but I know my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew has some good ideas to help me improve. It could be tricky conditions tomorrow though if we get some rain that's been forecast, but after my second place in Le Mans and the good feeling I had in FP1 on the wet tyres, I am still very optimistic."