The heavy rain meant qualifying became a frantic and fascinating affair, with Eugene Laverty and Jack Miller topping Q2 to make it through to Q1 – Laverty’s performance particularly catching the eye.
Q1 saw nearly every rider make a break from the pits from the off, eager to set a time before the weather worsened.
Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo looked nervous, his wet weather voodoo obviously causing his concern, but compatriot Marc Marquez on the finiky Honda oozed confidence.
The difference between the two was marked – at Copse Lorenzo would shut off the throttle as the bike squirmed, whereas Marquez would keep it pinned.
That bravery would catch the Repsol Honda man out through, and he lost the front at speed, tumbling through the gravel in front of the Valentino Rossi Fan Club stand, just like he did in last year’s race.
The final five minutes saw the rain come down harder, and Crutchlow dug deep to claim pole. It looked like Laverty was going to continue his sensational Q2 form and snatch it from him – he was under Crutchlow’s time for the first two time splits on his last lap – but he tucked the front and crashed out of contention.
Crutchlow said: “I didn’t honestly believe I was pushing. In the first sector I was not so fast and I had a little bit of a moment, then the rest of the lap I just tried to keep the lap together and thought. But on the next lap when I started to push I nearly crashed at Turn One.
“But then I looked at the laptimes and saw that everyone else at that time was quite a lot slower, so I thought that maybe I was taking some risks. I cruised around for the rest thinking that if somebody starts to come a little bit faster, then I’ll go, but I knew with the rain starting to come heavier it was a little bit more difficult.
“I saw Marc crash at Turn One on the big screen and I’d had a moment there as well, so I thought if I had to push again it would be quite dangerous. I took the risk at probably the right time.”
Rainmaster Valentino Rossi claimed second, Suzuki’s Maverick Viñales claimed third and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa crossed the line on his final effort to pip teammate Marc Marquez to fourth. Laverty’s time was another to put him behind Marquez in sixth, while hard charger Scott Redding piloted his Ducati to an impressive seventh. Ducati factory rider Andrea Iannone had an uncharacteristically anonymous session in the wet to cross the line for eight, just ahead of reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo, who endured more misery in the wet. Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso looked nervous throughout the wet sessions and fell during Q2, and finished qualifying in tenth – he was subsequently taken to the Medical Centre and declared fit.