Cal Crutchlow has set himself the target of proving his Donington Park World Superbike podium was no 'fluke' after qualifying a superb second place on the grid for the two races in Portugal.

Making a good impression on his swansong ride with the HM Plant team before he switches to the World Supersport Championship next season, Crutchlow timed his best lap in the sodden Superpole session well to slot in behind only new champion Troy Bayliss.

Still, while he admits his position on the grid had something to do with timing, his daring approach on a rather loose looking Honda bike was also in evidence as he went on to finish as the best of the strong British contingent.

Despite the feat, Crutchlow has now set his sights on the races where he is hoping he can prove as competitive here as he was at Donington Park when he finished second behind Ryuichi Kiyonari.

"To finish the wet Superpole behind a man like Troy Bayliss is something pretty special, but now it's the races I'm concentrating on. We timed our last run almost to perfection, but we've now got to convert this into two good results before I say goodbye to HM Plant Honda, who've been a great team.

"I want to get a pair of good finishes, preferably in the dry to show the Donington result wasn't a fluke. It would be nice to show the World what I can do before joining the World Supersport paddock in 2009."

Team-mate Leon Haslam, meanwhile, admits he was at home in conditions more akin to those experienced in the UK this year, even if he didn't quite time is lap perfectly.

"I'm happy enough with 6th on the second-row, I think we can run strongly in both races tomorrow as race set-up feels good. If anything I'm disappointed with the conditions and the timing of my runs today. The weather was pretty poor out there in the end, not what you expect from travelling all this way from the UK!

"We probably should have headed out at a different time for our allotted 12 wet laps, but that's the way it goes. We're still up there and I'm confident for both races tomorrow and determined to leave the HM Plant Honda team with some good results."

Team manager Havier Beltran also joked the terrible weather probably meant they were better prepared than most teams, but he is confident Crutchlow and Haslam can shine in the dry too.

"After a season of poor weather in the Bennetts British Superbike championship, we were expecting better here! We can't believe it: it was lovely this morning and then the rain came just before Superpole. One half of the circuit soon got drenched, but then it got worse all around the circuit. Conditions got pretty bad with standing water on the first turn, which soon brought silt down from the side of the track. Despite these conditions both riders did well.

"Leon perhaps got his timing a little wrong with his final fast laps, but he wasn't going to get any quicker in the last ten minutes or so. We're really pleased for Cal, as second on the grid is a great result. I think hand-on-heart we may not see which way Bayliss goes tomorrow, but I'm confident that both riders can run in the top three and battle for a podium finish here. The weather is also supposed to be better, so let's keep our fingers crossed!"



Loading Comments...