Colin Edwards fifth, James Toseland 12th after exciting qualifying Colin Edwards and James Toseland both led an eventful and exciting Malaysian MotoGP qualifying session in Sepang today before the Tech 3 Yamaha pairing had to settle for fifth...
Colin Edwards fifth, James Toseland 12th after exciting qualifying
Colin Edwards and James Toseland both led an eventful and exciting Malaysian MotoGP qualifying session in Sepang today before the Tech 3 Yamaha pairing had to settle for fifth and 12th on the grid respectively.
Edwards and Toseland topped the timesheets in the final ten minutes of a session that started on a wet track after torrential late morning rain had battered the 5.548km circuit. In typically hot and humid conditions at Sepang, the track dried rapidly and shortly before the halfway stage, Edwards and Toseland were able to switch to slick race tyres and qualifiers.
Having encountered some issues in the drying conditions on his full wet tyres, American Edwards quickly rediscovered his form on Michelin's impressive slick rubber in tricky conditions, with parts of the circuit still littered with damp patches. Edwards, who was quickest in yesterday's dry conditions, started his charge in the final third of the session, jumping into the top three with 18 minutes remaining. With lap times dropping dramatically as conditions improved, only six minutes remained when the 33-year moved to the top of the timesheets.
His best lap of 2.02.245 on his last flying lap moved him back into second behind world champion Valentino Rossi, but with a sixth front row start of the season beckoning, he was bumped down three places in a frantic final few seconds. Today's performance though secured Edwards his best grid position since the German MotoGP race in mid-July as he missed the front row by just 0.07s.
Edwards though has been able to consistently post some of the most competitive lap times in the dry this weekend, raising hopes of a podium challenge in tomorrow's 21-lap race.
The mixed conditions also made it an action-packed session for 28-year-old Toseland. Initially running full wet and then intermediate tyres to build up his confidence, once he'd fitted his Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-M1 with slick rubber he jumped into the top three with 17 minutes remaining. He then moved into first place with just nine minutes left on the clock before a time of 2.02.282 on his final qualifying tyre put him on the second row. As lap times continued to plummet, Toseland unfortunately slipped down to 12th, though he's confident of a strong performance in his Malaysia MotoGP debut tomorrow.
Colin Edwards - Position: 5th Time: 2'02.245 Laps: 17
"That was a pretty eventful session to say the least. I was last, first, tenth and ended up fifth and that's how it can be on a drying track. You have tyres that are right for one moment, and then a minute later that's not the right tyre and six or more guys go faster. At the start when it was already drying up pretty quickly, I just couldn't get the tyres to work at all in those mixed conditions. I went out on one of the hardest tyres I had and it just wasn't lasting, so I decided to sit in the pits for a bit hoping it would get to a point where it would be dry enough for slicks. It was drying really quickly, but I was worried it was going to rain again and I was going to be in big trouble because I think I was last at one point. I think I was the first guy to go on slicks in the front and rear and I got to some decent times for the conditions, just using a soft race tyre to get some confidence for the qualifiers. I wanted to put the slicks on as soon as I could just to try and put in a decent time and improve my position in case it rained again. I only used two qualifiers and my first one was just to understand how much grip there was. The grip was pretty good although there were still a couple of little damp patches you had to watch for. It only slowed us down by a second from last year's pole but you just had to stay on line. You couldn't really venture off line too far. On my last qualifier I did a good job but I made a small mistake and that might have cost me the front row. But with the way the session started and the problems I was having with the rain tyres on a drying track, I'll definitely take a place on the second row. I feel good for tomorrow's race. I've been going well all weekend in the dry and we played with the rear shock today, making the spring a bit softer and the bike feels even better. I've just got to convert it into a result now."
James Toseland - Position: 12th Time: 2'03.282 Laps: 20
"Today was all about timing and judging when to jump on the bike with slick tyres on to make the most of the drying track. But unfortunately I just missed out. The track was just drying at the point when I'd run out of time to put in another qualifier, but I'm sure I could have got in the 2.02s and that's a second row, so it is a bit frustrating. Early on when it was full wet I was trying not to take any risks because I could see it was going to dry quickly. There were still a few puddles in some places and going through them on slicks pretty much means an instant loss of traction for a split second. At times I was top three, then out of the top ten, and then leading, so that shows how up and down it was when the track was dry. I also didn't get the most out of my last qualifier because I thought I might have the chance to come in for the fourth one. So I pushed hard on the warm-up lap and to be honest I went too quick and it was sliding around a lot. And as it happens I wouldn't have had time to use the fourth one anyway. We have still got some work to do for the race tomorrow as well. This morning in the dry we moved in the right direction and I was about a second off. If I can improve the setting to run in high 2.02s, then there is no reason why I can't be fighting for the top six."