Top six for Edwards, Crutchlow shines again in Estoril
Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow continued their excellent start to the 2011 MotoGP World Championship in today's Portuguese Grand Prix after the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team duo stormed to top eight finishes in Estoril.
... before the start of the weekend I'd have never thought it possible to finish in the top eight.
Edwards claimed a season best sixth place finish after he'd produced a magnificent early challenge to fight with Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso as the Italian pair battled for fourth spot.
Taking advantage of the best weather conditions of the weekend that saw air temperatures hit 20 degrees, the experienced American looked poised to join the Rossi and Dovizioso battle on lap ten when he closed to within 1.5s of Dovizioso with a determined performance. But he almost immediately started to encounter a side grip issue and despite a rousing effort to remain in touch with Rossi and Dovizioso, he settled for a safe sixth position to finish leading non-factory rider once again. His top six position also moved him back into the top ten in the overall World Championship standings on 18-points after three rounds.
Crutchlow looked on course to secure his best MotoGP finish of a rookie season in which the British rider continues to show his incredible speed. The 2009 World Supersport champion was in outstanding form in the early stages to pull away from an exciting battle involving Hiroshi Aoyama, Nicky Hayden and Ben Spies.
Only Aoyama had the speed to match Crutchlow and the pair engaged in a captivating battle for seventh position. Aoyama took seventh on lap 20, but determined not to let the former 250cc World Champion streak away, Crutchlow retaliated on lap 25 with a clinically executed overtake. Crutchlow kept the hard charging Japanese rider at bay until the start of the final lap, and despite a brilliant attempt to re-pass at the final chicane, Crutchlow was just unable to claim seventh.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team will now prepare for its all-important home race at the historic Le Mans circuit later this month, with Edwards and Crutchlow looking to cement the Team's position as the leading independent squad in the MotoGP World Championship.
Position 6th - Time +32.575
"I don't know what happened at the start but there was stuff going on everywhere. I saw Casey have a big moment and then Simoncelli needed a parachute, so it was just survival for the first few corners and see what happened. I saw Valentino and Andrea right in front of me and I was ready to reel them in. I was getting closer but I was pushing so hard just to stay in touch I lost a bit of side grip in the middle of the race and the lap times dropped a bit. I couldn't have tried any harder to catch them and felt I had the pace in some areas, but when I opened the throttle the traction control would kick in because I was having quite a bit of wheelspin. But to be in the top six in this field is still a great achievement for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team and me. I can't really ask for anything more because I know the package I'm on and I know how fast the factory bikes are and the guys sat on top of them. A top six to take into the next race in France gives us all a lot of confidence because that is a big race for Tech 3 and Monster and I'm already looking forwad to going there.”
Position 8th - Time +40.912
“I'm happy enough with that because before the start of the weekend I'd have never thought it possible to finish in the top eight on a circuit I'd never even seen before. And considering I had problems with both my arms all weekend, it is a great feeling. My right arm, which I had the operation is fine, but my left arm is really sore because I've been compensating with it. But the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team have been awesome all weekend. They have experience of helping rookie riders and they are doing a great job for me. And they've adjusted the bike to help me feel more comfortable with the arm problems. It is a shame I couldn't quite beat Aoyama at the end. Earlier in the race I felt really comfortable and kept some really fast and experienced guys behind me. It was a really good battle with Aoyama and while I don't like to get beaten in a last lap fight, I gave him a good run for his money and it is great experience for me to be in a scrap like that. If I keep doing what I'm doing at the moment then there is no reason why on tracks that I know that I can't be even further up. I'm really looking forward to Le Mans now. It is a massive race for the Team being in France and also for Monster, so I'll be looking to get another top ten finish.”
Herve Poncharal - Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team Manager
"That was a very good race. We were all a bit worried about the weather, even when we were on the grid, but it stayed dry and allowed Colin and Cal to finish comfortably inside the top eight. Colin had a brilliant start and he pushed really hard in the beginning and he managed to open a gap on the chasing pack to stay right behind Rossi and Dovizioso. He started to lose a bit of time but he could keep his position easily and sixth is a really good result, especially after the big disappointment of Spain when were so close to the podium. I am really pleased as Colin is doing an incredibly good job since the beginning of the season and he deserved to get in the top six. Cal was very strong all weekend again and he continues to amaze me. He was fighting really hard with Aoyama and he never gave up until the very last lap, even though he has less experience of MotoGP and much less experience of the Estoril track than Aoyama. I was a bit worried about his arm before the start of the race, but he showed that he is great in the fight and never gives up. The next race is our home Grand Prix and we are looking forward to a very good result as we know Yamaha is always very strong in Le Mans."