Malaysian GP: Tech 3 Yamaha Friday practice report

Colin Edwards sets hot pace in Sepang sauna Colin Edwards made a stunning return to form in typically scorching hot Sepang conditions today, the Tech 3 Yamaha rider ending the opening free practice sessions for the penultimate race of 2008 with...

Colin Edwards sets hot pace in Sepang sauna

Colin Edwards made a stunning return to form in typically scorching hot Sepang conditions today, the Tech 3 Yamaha rider ending the opening free practice sessions for the penultimate race of 2008 with the fastest time.

The American, who was fourth quickest in this morning's opening session, didn't let a brief interruption caused by a short rain shower this afternoon disturb his impressive speed.

Spots of rain continued to fall for the remainder of the session, but Edwards maintained his focus to clock a best time of 2.02.667 that edged out newly crowned world champion and fellow Yamaha YZR-M1 rider Valentino Rossi by 0.171s.

In air temperatures that peaked at 32 degrees, Edwards' performance was helped by a decision to revert back to a front-end setting he used at the beginning of the season. The modification immediately improved Edwards' confidence with the front-end of his YZR-M1, which also helped him drastically improve his corner speed at the long and technically challenging Sepang circuit. He was one of only three riders to dip under the 2.02 mark.

James Toseland was 13th quickest, setting his best time of 2.03.964 this morning as he finished just over a second adrift of the leading pace. The British rider began his MotoGP career in Sepang last November when he made his YZR-M1 debut.

Colin Edwards - Position: 1 Time: 2'02.667 Laps: 36

"It feels really good to be back at the front because the last few races have been tough. We have gone back to a front-end setting that I started the year on and it has transformed the bike and I've got my confidence back. We made a change at the Le Mans test with the offset and I started to have the best results of my career on tracks where I'd struggled before. I was fifth in Mugello and Catalunya, fourth in Donington and then I got on the podium in Assen, so I thought it was definitely the direction to go. I thought we'd stumbled on the magic setting, but since then I've struggled with the front-end. I have not been able to carry the corner speed I'd like and I've been running wide a lot. But now I've changed the front back to what I've known for most of my Yamaha career, it feels fantastic. Now the bike isn't pushing off line at maximum lean angle and the riding just feels natural. Before it felt like I had to really force the front down in the corner to get the bike steering. Now I know exactly what the front tyre is doing and for me that is crucial because my style means I rely on front-end feel so much. I'm running out of time to learn things at this stage of my career, but I've learned that I need to stick with what I know works. Michelin have got some good tyres here and my race pace is really consistent. Even when the grip was dropping off a bit I was still able to run the lap times. There were a few drops of rain around but I felt confident to push, and its been a long time since I've felt like that."

James Toseland - Position: 13 Time: 2'03.964Laps: 38

"This track is so long and technical that it took a bit of time to get back into the swing of things and the test in January seemed like a long time ago. I felt pretty comfortable this morning but we never really moved forward with the setting this afternoon and that is a bit frustrating. We have got an idea on how to improve the bike for tomorrow because I'm struggling on corner exit. When I'm mid-corner and getting on the throttle, I'm struggling with some feel from the rear to get off the corner. At a track like this where there are a few bumps it is making it feel as twice as bad. There are also a lot of corners where you accelerate from slow speed, so rear feeling is crucial. I can do high 2.03s and I'm about three-quarters-of-a-second off the best race pace, so it has not been a disastrous day."

-credit: yamaha-racing.com

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Colin Edwards , James Toseland