Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow opted to test the endurance of the harder compound Bridgestone rear tyre in the searing afternoon heat at Catalunya, sacrificing the opportunity to end day one in a higher position on the practice leaderboard.

The British MotoGP rider had been as high as third in the first free practice session in the morning, but slipped to fifth after FP2 as the satellite Yamaha star decided against switching to a softer rear to boost his time in Spain.

Crutchlow, who set his best lap of 1m 42.492s in FP1, ended the day with a time of 1m 42.776s to leave him fifth in the second free practice session but fourth overall on the combined time sheets, 0.047s outside of top three and less than 0.2s away from Valentino Rossi's fastest lap of 1m 42.297s.

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"I am really happy with today's practice because we experimented a lot with the bike and found some very positive things that will help me for the rest of the weekend," he said.

"This afternoon when the temperature really came hot I didn't use a soft tyre and we can see from the timesheets how much of an advantage that was.

"I am sure if I had used the soft tyre I'd have been inside the top three but I preferred to do a long run with the hard tyre and it was positive.

"I need to improve a bit in the first sector but we have some changes planned for tomorrow that should help make me stronger and overall today I am really happy," added Crutchlow, whose time in the morning was only 0.070s adrift of FP1 leader Jorge Lorenzo on the factory YZR-M1.

"I am convinced it is going to be a big fight on Sunday with the Spanish boys obviously wanting to put on a show here but I am looking forward to being part of the battle."