French GP: Tech 3 Yamaha qualifying report

Edwards close to pole at his team's home GP Colin Edwards was in superb form again today as he came close to handing the Tech 3 Yamaha team a home pole position for the French GP in Le Mans. The American will start tomorrow's 28-lap race from ...

Edwards close to pole at his team's home GP

Colin Edwards was in superb form again today as he came close to handing the Tech 3 Yamaha team a home pole position for the French GP in Le Mans. The American will start tomorrow's 28-lap race from second on the grid after he was denied a second successive pole position at the historic Bugatti circuit by current MotoGP world championship leader Dani Pedrosa. Edwards had produced another masterful display of riding on Michelin's dominant qualifying tyres to lead the field by 0.7s with 20 minutes remaining. Bidding for a fourth career pole and his second of 2008, Edwards increased his advantage with just 11 minutes remaining when he clocked a lap of 1.32.774. That time smashed his 2007 Le Mans pole position time by close to a second, but trying to respond to Pedrosa's time on his last qualifier, Edwards encountered a problem attempting to pass Marco Melandri and had to settle for second. Edwards though is confident he is capable of mounting a podium challenge tomorrow after posting fast and consistent times on race tyres all weekend. He was quickest at the end of the three free practice sessions.

A new tactic helped British rider James Toseland claim seventh on the grid as he opted to run four Michelin qualifying tyres for the first time. He clocked a best time of 1.33.396, with the extra qualifier helping him gradually build up speed on the soft rubber. Toseland looked on course for his third second row start in five races when Nicky Hayden dropped him out of the top six by just 0.110s in the closing stages.

Colin Edwards 2nd 1'32.774

"I've got to admit that I thought I'd done enough for pole position today. I'll even admit that the time I did with my first tyre I thought might be good enough. I thought I'm just going to kick back with a coffee but the boys starting knocking down the times and when I did my second lap of 32.7, I thought 'that is going to be close to pole.' I was out on my last tyre and I was hammering it but still felt pretty comfortable like I had more in reserve. Then I came out of the bottom hairpin and Marco was in front of me, but he was a good fifteen bike lengths clear. He stayed way over to the left and I thought 'okay, he'll look back and see me.' But he didn't look back and unfortunately it cost me a bit of time, which is a little frustrating. I almost ran into the back of him and I had to stand the bike up and run over the inside of the kerb. Maybe if I had just kept the throttle wide open I'd have still got a fast time. It could have been pole position because I'd matched Dani through the first two splits and the strongest section for Yamaha has always been T4.

"With our chassis and the way the bike handles the bike works like a dream in the last section, so I was confident that I'd have made up some time in that last part. I was certainly going to give it a go. I'm still happy to be on the front row, but pole would have been nice for the Tech 3 team in their home race. The bike is working awesome and Michelin has done a great job. For Tech 3 and Michelin this is a massively important race, and I'll be giving it everything tomorrow. On race tyres we have been fast and consistent all weekend and I'm feeling good."

James Toseland 7th 1'33.396

"I did pretty good times in every section but never managed to put them together on the same lap unfortunately. Without that track knowledge and a couple of small mistakes you are on the third row. The speed of these guys and their experience is unbelievable and it is tough to beat them when everything is perfect. Nicky just beat me to the second row and I'd have been really pleased with that because it is vital to be on he first two rows to get away with that leading bunch.

"Being on the third row is quite a big disadvantage so I need a really good start. I ran four qualifiers today because on a track I don't know it is almost like having to learn the circuit again with the extra grip. It just helps me build up speed gradually instead of having to take your brain out and go for a time. There is so much pressure to get a good grid position you can't afford to make a mistake and having a fourth is like a banker really. I've been improving all weekend, but I just need to start on a Tuesday or a Wednesday and I'd be okay! We have definitely found a direction with the set-up. I'm hoping it will be dry tomorrow morning because we need to try something else but I got into the 34s on race tyres this afternoon and I need to shave off about half-a-second really. But we got rear traction massively better than yesterday. At least now I can drive off the corners better because in China I couldn't drive of the corners very well and that's why I was getting passed on the exit. Colin has been brilliant all weekend and it's been great for the Tech 3 team at their home race. Hopefully I can get in amongst the action tomorrow and give my guys a good result."


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Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Colin Edwards , James Toseland , Marco Melandri , Dani Pedrosa