Cal Crutchlow was one of a number of riders predicting an incredibly close MotoGP race at Misano on Sunday - or an “epic battle” to use his words - after the Englishman qualified sixth in an action-packed Q2 session.

32-year old Crutchlow was one of three Hondas to crash in the closing minutes of the Saturday afternoon session as he “pushed for pole.” Uninjured, he soon shrugged off the spill, and was assured when discussing his race pace ahead of Sunday's 27-lap encounter.

The only problem is the speed of those around him. Crutchlow acknowledged the potential of Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez, but he feels sure of his own chances of finishing inside the top five, even if it won’t be easy. “From second to twelfth it’s three tenths [difference per lap],” he explained.

“The track conditions are not anywhere near as good as it was at the test,” said Crutchlow, eighth in the championship standings. “That for our bike is really good. When the track conditions are good it’s better. if the track condition is really bad as well, then we’re really good.

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“Conditions in between we struggle more with our package. But again it’s nice to come to a track and be competitive. Every track we’ve been to we’ve been competitive.

“Last year in some sessions we really struggled whereas this year I don’t feel in that bad place. We’re still on the up, and riding well. Now we have to make a good race tomorrow.

“I think it’s going to be an epic battle. Lorenzo has great pace. Marc has good pace. But I don’t know if they can get away, honestly speaking. I think second or third to twelfth it’s 0.3s. Sometimes we gain three tenths in braking. Obviously we lose somewhere else. But it’s so close.”

On his efforts to achieve pole position in qualifying, Crutchlow said, “I wanted to go for pole. I had two seconds when I crossed the line and I thought this was the last chance to push for pole.

“I felt quite good in my first lap on that run. I scrapped the second lap to save a bit the tyre. Then I pushed on the last lap and made it three seconds into the lap. I went in a little tight because I was going in hot. I out-braked myself a little bit so I went in tight.

“I used the medium from tyre but the thing is, if I was using the hard tyre I’d have crashed earlier than that probably. There’s not enough grip with it. It’s more stable in braking but there’s not enough grip. The medium front is too soft and gets a bit overheated. The left side of the hard tyre seems critical so we’re in two minds with what to do at the moment.

“Yeah, completely my own fault, but I feel good. My pace is good. We have a good rhythm. I think the bike and the setting we’re using at the moment is not good for one lap, honestly speaking.

“It seems over the last races my rhythm has been good. On the one-lap attacks I don’t feel superb. But that’s more down to setting and we can’t just change it for [qualifying] It’s impossible.

“I’m happy to be on the second row, because it looked like I could have gone on the third with the mistake I made. We have to try our best tomorrow. I feel we can be in the top five and potentially fight for the podium depending on what happens in the race.”

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