Yamaha Tech 3's Cal Crutchlow was back at the sharp end during free practice for the Malaysian MotoGP at Sepang as the British rider ended day one in third place.

Crutchlow improved his time by almost a second from FP1 to break into the top three behind Repsol Honda pair Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez in FP2.

The 27-year-old struggle with pain in his swollen right arm in the morning session, which he injured at Silverstone, but Crutchlow was much happier with his physical condition in FP2 as he set a best lap of 2m 01.423 seconds to put him ahead of Factory Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi by 0.115s.

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"It was very difficult this morning to ride at my maximum level because I had some problems with the right arm I first injured during the recent British Grand Prix," said Crutchlow.

"I already know I need surgery at the end of the season but until now the big impact my arm took at Silverstone has only given me bad swelling but no pain.

"This morning instead it hurt me a lot and couldn't use the arm that well. Fortunately the afternoon session was much better and on my final run of the day we made a positive step and I am pleased to finish inside the top three," he added.

"I was immediately faster the first time I put in a new tyre because for most of FP2 we worked on the set-up of the bike with worn tyres I'd also used this morning."

As well as his arm, Crutchlow again identified the straight-line speed of his Yamaha as holding him back:

"We're slow [on the straights] and losing three tenths to the factory Yamaha's on two straight lines and our bike is slow," said Crutchlow.

"The speed trap is inside the braking zone here so you can't look at the speed trap and say that the bike is slow because [for example] Bradley brakes earlier than me so it looks like I'm faster than him but when we look at the data I'm three kmp/h slower and six or seven to Jorge and 12 to the Honda.

"Dani is unbelievable in the last section and because he is so small he can take a big advantage in this section. But he's riding well on the other part of the track too!"

Crutchlow had a string of podium finishes in the opening half of the season but has struggled in recent races to recapture that form.

When asked about his chances of fighting for the podium this weekend the Englishman admitted that a lot of his hopes hinge on how his arm feels:

"Potentially we could be in the fight for the podium but it depends on how my arm is. I hope so but I think that we have a better chance at Philip Island and Motegi."