Familiar territory awaits Tech 3 Yamaha in Malaysia
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team returns to familiar territory this weekend for the penultimate round of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship, with Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow ready for their third visit of the year to the fast and technical Sepang circuit in Malaysia.
After testing twice at the Sepang circuit during the pre-season schedule in February, Edwards and Crutchlow are confident they can put the set-up information collected over six punishing days to good use when precious World Championship points are at stake in Sunday's 20-lap race.
The Sepang race is undoubtedly the most mentally and physically demanding on the 18-round calendar, with extreme conditions experienced at the 5.548km track seeing air temperatures capable of nudging 40 degrees. Add in the gruelling humidity and the race, which takes places on the second longest track of the season, is a stern test of stamina and concentration.
Edwards arrives in Malaysia full of confidence and in peak physical condition to cope with the intense heat and humidity after he raced to a fantastic fifth place in the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island on Sunday.
His third top six finish of the campaign helped the 37-year-old take a giant leap towards finishing top non-factory rider in the championship and he is currently a healthy 15-points clear of Hiroshi Aoyama.
Edwards has already bettered his 2010 points tally with two rounds remaining and although Sepang has not been a favourite venue for the American in the past, he is optimistic he can improve on his best result of eighth in 2008.
Crutchlow has also arrived in Malaysia in determined mood, the British rider keen to make amends for an unlucky crash in Phillip Island just four days ago that cost him the chance of scoring a hard earned top 10 finish.
Crutchlow fell heavily while battling for eighth position but he has been given a clean bill of health for this weekend. He is bidding to battle for another top 10 as the contest for the coveted Rookie of the Year prize intensifies. Crutchlow holds a slender one-point advantage over Karel Abraham going into round 17.
When he tested at Sepang in February, Crutchlow was still acclimatising himself with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine and understanding how to alter his riding style from World Superbikes.
Eight months later and he is armed with a lot more experience and confident he can push for the top 10 again before his impressive rookie season concludes at the traditional season finale in Valencia next month.
“Sepang sometimes feels like a second home because we spend so much time here and I practically know every inch of the track like the back of my hand. It is a long and technical track but obviously everybody talks about the weather conditions here. There's no doubt that the heat and humidity is really punishing and it doesn't matter how many years I've been coming here, you never got used to it. All you can do is drink lots of water to keep yourself hydrated and try and conserve as much as energy as possible for the race. Last weekend was a great result and if I can repeat that it would be absolutely awesome. Although I've done a million laps round Sepang, I've never come away with a decent result, so I'm looking to change that on Sunday. I'm coming to the end of my time with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team and I really want to finish on a high because it has been an amazing spell in my career.”
“To be honest the two tests at the beginning of the year weren't easy at all. Sepang is not only difficult from a physical point of view with the heat and humidity but the circuit was incredibly hard to learn. It is long and very wide, so even though I've been here twice before on the YZR-M1, I'm expecting a tough weekend. Physically I'm fine after Phillip Island. I've got a few bumps and bruises but what hurt more is that I could have had an eighth place and that's a shame because those points would have been good for the Championship. Since I was here in Sepang earlier in the year I have gained so much experience about the bike and tyres and I'm looking f orward to picking up a strong result.”