Encouraging start for Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team on home soil
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad made an encouraging start to preparations for the Team's all-important home race in France after Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow set a fast and competitive pace on the opening day of practice at the historic Le Mans circuit.
Today's session was run in gloriously sunny conditions, which gave Edwards and Crutchlow the perfect opportunity to focus on making further adjustments and improvements to the settings they found during a successful one-day test session after the recent Estoril round in Portugal.
Edwards was able to knock almost a second off his best time from this morning's session, the American thrilled that a revised set-up he evaluated in Estoril to improve rear grip barely needed to be modified to allow him to challenge for a top six time in Le Mans today.
Edwards ended with a best time of 1.34.939 to finish just 0.5s away from the top three in seventh place on the combined timesheets.
Crutchlow's incredible prowess at quickly learning new tracks was evident again today, the British rider finishing second quickest Yamaha in this morning's session as he immediately adapted to the heavy braking and hard acceleration characteristics of the legendary Bugatti track.
Ninth fastest in the opening session, Crutchlow looked certain to force his way deservedly back into the top ten this afternoon when he suffered a small front-end crash in the final three minutes.
Despite shaving over 0.6s off his best time set this morning, Crutchlow had to settle for 12th on the leaderboard, a result that certainly didn't show a true reflection of the 25-year-old's potential.
Position 7th - Time 1.34.939 - Laps 41
“I knew we'd made a big step with the changes we made to the bike during the test in Estoril and today's practice confirmed that. We made a couple of little tweaks to the setting we finished the test in Portugal with, but by the end of the day the bike was pretty much identical to how we put it on the truck a couple of weeks back. I feel like I've got a lot more rear grip and the bike goes in the direction that I point it and that just makes my riding feel really natural. I've been missing that feeling and for most of the year I've been fighting the bike to get it to do something. But today it was much easier to do the lap time. And it doesn't matter what track you're on, if you can ride without fighting the bike, you can string together some good laps. I'm really happy but we can make the bike a little bit better. I'd like to get the electronics helping me turn on the exit a bit more in some of the tighter sections. Overall it has been a really positive start and that's important being such a huge race for the Team and for Monster.”
Position 12th - Time 1.35.158 - Laps 42
“I'm pretty happy with how today went apart from the stupid crash at the end which was just a mistake I made in braking for Turn 6. I just ran in a bit hot on the brakes and tipped off. Despite that I was only a tenth behind Colin and he's got a great record at this track. On the lap I crashed I'd done my best splits of the session in the first two sectors and was only two-tenths off the best lap at that point. If I'd lost another two-tenths in the second two splits then I'd have been in the top six. To finish 12th doesn't do us justice at all and if we can carry on tomorrow making the same progression I did today, I know I can be comfortably in the top ten. Although people told me Le Mans was going to be easier to learn than Jerez and Estoril, I actually think it is harder because it is so hard to pick up the tenths you need to go faster. And it doesn't help make it any easier when Casey goes out on lap record pace in the first practice! We can make the bike better for tomorrow. As soon as I open the throttle I run wide, so I'll have a sit down with my guys and come up with a plan to solve that tomorrow. This is a massive weekend for the Team and Monster and today was a positive start, so I'm looking forward to Sunday and fighting for a top ten again.”
-source: tech 3 yamaha