Edwards primed for top six challenge in Indianapolis
Colin Edwards will start his bid for a top six finish in front of his home fans at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway tomorrow from the second row of the grid after he equalled his best qualifying performance of 2011 this afternoon.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider was able to transfer his stunning practice form into the 60-minute qualifying session and he will start tomorrow's 28-lap race from sixth position on the grid.
Throughout the three practice sessions, Edwards was consistently running inside the top six and a fastest lap of 1.40.098 in a sun-drenched qualifying session saw him finish just over 0.1s away from claiming fourth spot on the grid.
With the new infield tarmac offering vastly improved levels of grip with more rubber laid down on the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway today, Edwards was able to lap 1.2s faster than his best time in qualifying for last year's race.
The 37-year-old Texan is now optimistic that he can battle for a third top six result of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship to strengthen his bid to finish the campaign as the leading non-factory rider.
British rider Cal Crutchlow had a frustrating end to an otherwise encouraging qualifying session and he will start the 12th round of this year's World Championship from 11th position on the grid.
The 25-year-old has dedicated the majority of his time this weekend working hard with his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team crew to make progress in finding a comfortable front-end setting with his YZR-M1 machine.
His commitment and determination looked like being rewarded with a top 10 place on the grid, but as he pushed to improve his best lap time of 1.40.620, Crutchlow came across Loris Capirossi riding slowly on the racing line at Turn 13 in the final two minutes.
Crutchlow had to quickly take evasive action to avoid a collision with the Ducati rider and he ran into the gravel trap, preventing him from making any further improvement to his lap time.
Despite missing out on his ninth top 10 grid position of the season, Crutchlow is confident he can battle with factory riders Nicky Hayden and Alvaro Bautista in tomorrow's race.
Position 6th - Time 1.40.098 - Laps 26
“The weekend has been great so far and now I'm really looking forward to the race tomorrow. I haven't been out of the top six in every session and everything has been working fantastic. I feel great on the bike, my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team have been working tirelessly again to give me a competitive package, and I'm sure a realistic goal is to finish in the top six. That would be a great result and I'm hoping to put on a good show for the Indy crowd tomorrow. The new pavement was a million times better today. Yesterday it was greasy and I was sliding around all over the place, but to finish third in that first practice session gave me a lot of confidence immediately and we have just built on that. Right at the end on one of the soft tyres I knew I had to take a risk on the first lap. Normally I'm not the guy that pushes on the first lap, but I knew here that the soft tyre needed to be hammered right out of the pitlane when it had a lot better grip than the second lap. The bike has felt the best it has for a few races and now I'm excited for the race. I need a good start but I'll be looking to have a good fight wi th Dovizioso and Simoncelli. In this heat it is going to be a long and tough race, but I'll be giving it my all for the American fans.”
Position 11th - Time 1.40.620 - Laps 24
“I'm pretty disappointed with Loris today. He is the most experienced rider on track and he should no better than anybody that riding slowly at the end of a qualifying session when everybody is going to be pushing hard for a decent grid position isn't the right thing to do. The worst thing was he looked behind twice and saw me coming but he stayed on the racing line when he knew I was on a fast lap. I had to swerve really quick to avoid hitting him and that is disappointing. I'm not saying I was going to jump into the top five, but I'm sure without that I might have qualified inside the top 10. That would have been a good result because I'm struggling with the fro nt-end again. I keep losing the front and it is proving quite difficult at the moment to find an improvement. I'm working really hard, and so are my guys, to find a solution. But we haven't quite made me as comfortable on the bike as I'd like. My pace is still not that bad and I'm sure I can be fighting in a group with Nicky and Alvaro tomorrow. If I can get a good start, I'm hopeful I can stay with them and have a good scrap.”