Edwards and Toseland aim high in Australia
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Colin Edwards finished tantalisingly close to recording his first front row grid position of the season today in typically mixed and unpredictable conditions at the spectacular Phillip Island circuit.
Edwards finished just 0.026s away from a place on the front row of the grid, the Texan working closely with his crew on improving stability and agility with his YZR-M1 machine to cope with Phillip Island's fast and flowing sections.
Edwards posted a best time of 1.31.096 and the 35-year-old is confident of a strong showing in tomorrow's race to bolster his bid for fifth place in the world championship standings.
Working hard with his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew to find a compromise between front-end stability and rear traction, James Toseland posted a best time of 1.31.722 that left the British rider in 12th position. Proving once again just how close the level of competition is in MotoGP, Toseland was only 0.7s away from a top three placing.
The 28-year-old though is confident with further overnight set-up tweaks that he can launch an attack on a second successive top six finish at Phillip Island and strengthen his challenge for a top seven championship finish.
All eyes will be on the weather ahead of tomorrow's 27-lap race after today's rapidly changing conditions. A large Australian crowd witnessed blue skies, strong winds, heavy cloud cover and rain today, though forecasts predict dry conditions for tomorrow's race.
Colin Edwards - Position: 5thTime: 1'31.096Laps: 27
"I can't remember how long I've been racing at this track but it is always a different experience and today was no exception. It's no secret that Yamaha had to make the bike much shorter this year to maximise the performance of the Bridgestone tyres, and it hasn't been easy to make the set-up work this weekend. With the track flowing like it does you need a stable bike for the fast sections but some agility for turning. But it seems with the shorter wheelbase bike here, a tiny change completely transforms the feeling. My guys have worked unbelievably hard to make me more comfortable and we found something that almost got me on the front row for the first time this year. On this track you've really got to take some risks to get a fast time, but you can't do that without having the bike right. At the end I had a setting where the risk was reduced a lot and I could push much harder without feeli ng like I was right on the limit. I feel we've got a good package for the race. I've got three races to take nine points out of (Andrea) Dovizioso for fifth in the championship and he's a few places behind me on the grid. I'll just hope the weather smiles on us so I can get my head down and put up a strong fight."
James Toseland - Position: 12thTime: 1'31.722 Laps: 30
"Once again today we saw just how close the competition is in MotoGP and how small the difference is between having a really strong grid position or being down the order. Another two or three tenths and I would have been in the top six and feeling much better after all the hard work we put in today. But today wasn't easy because I was looking for more rear grip. But changing the set-up to give me more rear grip, we sacrificed too much of the front-end feeling. And when you don't have front feeling on the fastest track on th e calendar with some really flat-out sections, you can't ride with the confidence you need. We made some changes to bring back my confidence with the front, but that just created wheelspin and a lack of rear grip again in some parts of the track. We just need to find a compromise but I'm not a million miles away. I'm confident with a good start that battling for a top six is certainly within reach. I've still got plenty to fight for in these last three races, so as usual I'll be giving it my maximum for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team."
-credit: tech 3