Super start for Edwards in sweltering Sepang
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Colin Edwards enjoyed a positive start to his preparations for this weekend's Malaysian MotoGP race at a sweltering hot Sepang circuit today.
The extensive work on the set-up of his YZR-M1 machine during two winter test sessions at the Sepang circuit in February paid instant dividends for Edwards today, the experienced American immediately able to find a fast and consistent rhythm.
He lapped in fourth place for the majority of this afternoon's second practice session, which took place in typically hot and humid conditions at the 5.548km track.
Air temperatures soared to well over 30 degrees and a best lap of 2.02.991s eventually secured the 37-year-old sixth position on the combined timesheets. Working on improving rear grip in the 32-laps he completed in physically demanding conditions, Edwards was almost 0.8s faster this afternoon. And he is confident with minor modifications to the set-up of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine ahead of tomorrow's final practice and qualifying session that he will be challenging for a place on the second row of the grid.
Cal Crutchlow's third visit of the year to the fast and technical Sepang circuit didn't run as smoothly as he had hoped. He worked closely with his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew to gain more rear side grip and better turning on corner entry, but he was unable to find a set-up that gave him the confidence to lap in the high 2.02 bracket like Edwards.
The 25-year-old was 0.7s faster in the second session but a best lap of 2.03.901 left him down in 15th on the timesheets. That was just over a second away from fourth and Crutchlow is determined to improve his pace tomorrow to fight a top 10 result in qualifying ahead of Sunday's 20-lap race.
Position 6th - Time 2.02.991 - Laps 32
“Today was a really good day and I was fast straight out of the crate. I was fourth for almost the whole of the second session and I'm happy to end up sixth. We pretty much ran the bike with the same set-up that we left the second test with in February and it felt great. That proves that testing twice here and riding lots of laps in punishing heat does work because we tried a couple of small changes on the bike but pretty much came back to the test setting. The first thing you need here is front-end confidence and the front was awesome right from the start. That gave us an opportunity to focus on improving rear grip and that's critical here. If you can get a set-up where the rear tyre is driving and not spinning, you can have a good race. The track is lacking a bit of rubber on it compared to the test but apart from that it feels pretty good. The conditions are typically hot here in Sepang but maybe it doesn't bother me as much as some of the others. I'm from Texas so I live in this type of heat and humidity and I'm pretty much used to it. Even though I've done millions of laps around this track I've never finished higher than eighth, but after a start like today I'm confident that I can do much better than that.”
Position 15th - Time 2.03.901 - Laps 33
“Today was pretty tough to be honest and not just because of the extreme heat and humidity. We're searching for front and rear grip and when the conditions are as hot as here, that's not an easy task. I'm missing side grip on the rear and like a few other tracks we've been to recently, I'm having problems getting the bike turned. The track is obviously in a lot different condition to when we tested here because the times are about two seconds slower, but I'd hoped to be a bit higher up the rankings. I knew it was going to be a tough day because I found this place hard during the two tests at the start of the year. It is such a long lap that it is difficult to get a lap nailed perfectly, but looking at the timesheets I am a second off fourth place and I'm not happy with the bike, so that gives me some encouragement. We'll continue working hard as always tomorrow and I'm sure we can find a few tenths to move up the order.”