Jerez de la Frontera (Spain) (AFP) – Honda’s British rider Cal Crutchlow secured his first pole since 2016 when he qualified with a record time for the Spanish MotoGP at Jerez de la Frontera on Saturday.
The winner last month in Argentina surged to the front of Sunday’s grid with a lap time of 1min 37.653sec in ideal conditions at the track in southern Spain.
Crutchlow will share the front row on Sunday with Spain’s Dani Pedrosa, who won in Jerez 12 months ago, and French rider Johann Zarco.
Defending world champion and great home hope Marc Marquez was fifth and starts from the second row while championship leader Andrea Dovizioso is on the third row after qualifying in eighth.
Marquez lowered the track record in practice, but a few hours before Crutchlow stole his thunder.
“It’s been too long,” beamed Crutchlow after his fourth career pole but first, at the 29th attempt, since the British Grand Prix in September, 2016.
“I have to continue like this tomorrow, Dani is the man to beat this weekend, like last year, but Marc is a better rider so we never know what’s going to happen.”
He added: “The bike feels good. I enjoy riding my bike at the moment. We’re confident to be aiming towards the podium.”
Pedrosa has given himself a decent shot at repeating last year’s success in Jerez.
“It’s always important to be on the front row and I’m happy and surprised about this result,” said the Spaniard.
Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi has work to do from the fourth row after qualifying in tenth in a desperately tight session with a mere eight tenths of a second covering the top 12.