Edwards and Spies set fast pace in Valencia

Colin Edwards was in fantastic form for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team today, the American ending the opening day of free practice for the final MotoGP race of 2010 Valencia in third position.

The 36-year-old was only 11th quickest in bright and sunny conditions this morning but a series of modifications to improve turning performance with his YZR-M1 machine helped him challenge for the top three throughout the second 45-minute session.

Edwards was also able to gain crucial information on the harder compound Bridgestone rear and set his best time of 1.33.466 on the 20th lap of his 23-lap stint in mild but cloudy conditions th is afternoon.

Brave Ben Spies also had a positive first day as he produced a performance full of grit and determination today. The 26-year-old is still limping heavily after he was unfortunate to dislocate his left ankle during a crash on the sighting lap ahead of last Sunday's Grand Prix of Portugal at the Estoril circuit.

His preparations for the final round suffered an early setback when he crashed in this morning's session at the second corner. But he made a brilliant recovery and in the closing stages of the second session, Spies was in the top three with team-mate Edwards.

Despite the ankle injury slightly hampering him while changing gears, Spies eventually finished sixth overall and his best time 1.33.528 was just over 0.4s quicker than his time set this morning. The afternoon session was a closely contested affair with Spies only 0.062s behind Ed wards and the top ten were split by less than one second.

Colin Edwards - Position: 3rd - Time: 1'33.466 - Laps: 42
"I'm really happy to have made such a good start. I was only 11th this morning but knew my guys had a handle on how to improve the bike and this afternoon it just felt so easy. All the problems I've had all year with the bike not turning and running wide disappeared. I could get into the corner hard on the brakes, carry lots of lean angle, open the throttle and the bike would just turn like it should do. It's all too little too late but I didn't feel like I was out there taking a lot of risks and I was nearly six-tenths faster this afternoon. Every lap I did was between 33.4 and 33.6 and that's consistently over half-a-second faster than what I was able to do here last year. I kept the same hard tyre for the whole session and just switched it between the bikes and my best tim e was on the 20th lap, so I'm really happy with the tyre performance too and think I could be in for a really strong weekend to finish the season."

Ben Spies - Position: 6th - Time: 1'33.528 - Laps: 49
"I'm happy with the way today ended because I'm sixth but really close to Colin in third. I felt good this morning before I crashed. I was on the soft front tyre and it is the one I don't like so much. I was happy to make it through the whole session on it but I got a bit too greedy and lost the front going into the second corner. I knew if I'd have swallowed some pride and slowed down or come in for the hard tyre it wouldn't have happened. At least I didn't aggravate the ankle, which is getting better as each day passes. Earlier this week it was really painful and I'm having a couple of issues back-shifting gears. But it is not going to be a problem for the race. I'm having lots of physio and when I'm not on the bike I'm using an ice pack a lot. But after the crash in Estoril and what happened this morning, I needed to have a good session this afternoon just to build up some confidence and that's what I managed. I'm really happy too because my fastest lap was on the 25th lap on the hard rear tyre option, so we've obviously got a good race setting already. Every change we made to the bike made it a bit better, so with a few more tweaks overnight we should be looking even stronger."

-source: tech 3