A crash on the out lap of FP3 set the tone for Cal Crutchlow's day, as the Englishman qualified 13th for the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, his worst Saturday showing since the Sachsenring last year.

Crutchlow took responsibility for his morning get off, an incident which had a knock on effect for his qualifying fortunes. The LCR Honda man was pushed out of the top ten in the morning session and then was unable to navigate a path out of a typically combative Q1.

Like fellow HRC rider Marc Marquez, the 31-year old believes Michelin's front tyre allocation was too soft for the high track temperatures, and found the going tough when steering his machine through Mugello's five high-speed 'S'-bends.

"I went out of the pit faster than I did in all the other practices this weekend, and I heated the tyre perfectly,," he said. "But it was used from yesterday, and we know that when you back out with a used tyre, they're a disaster. I had a new rear tire, and I was going a lot slower than yesterday, and I just crashed on the out lap.

"This hindered us the whole day, and it was my own fault, so I can't really complain. That hindered us in FP3, and we never got through to Q2 directly, because my other bike was not set up anywhere near the same as the first one.

"And it was a bit of a gamble to me. But my pace has been good, it's just I never had that lap time like I had yesterday. After what happened, I was always a little bit cautious to push in the first lap, and then I made a mistake in my FP3 lap, and I made a mistake in my Q1 lap, and that was it, game over.

"I didn't know if I was first or I didn't know if I was last, but hey, it's not an excuse, I should have gone faster. But overall, I feel my pace is quite good."

On where he is losing time to his rivals, Crutchlow continued, "Normally in the turning of the chicanes. Changing direction and turning in the chicanes. But it's normally coming from the front tyre, because we're heating it in the braking zone, and then the thing's not turning.

"But in the braking zones, we're good, in the acceleration, we're not too bad, in the straight we are losing a lot."

On Friday Crutchlow felt Sunday's 23-lap race was Andrea Dovizioso's to lose, after the Ducati star placed first and second in FP1 and 2. A day later, and the Englishman had changed his mind. Tech 3's Johann Zarco was now, in his eyes, a clear favourite.

"I'm going to change my prediction. It's now Zarco's race to lose, not anybody else's. He has by far the best pace of anyone. Probably half a second on most riders at the moment. He used the used a used tire yesterday, with 23 laps on, and did a 1'48.1.

"Most people are struggling to do a 1'48.1 with a new tire. Then he used the used tire from yesterday afternoon this morning, and he was doing 1'47s. It's his race to lose now. Zarco has better pace than Vale, he has better pace than anyone. Today, at least. Maybe not tomorrow. But we're all impressed, he's done a good job."

By Neil Morrison

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