Dazzling start by Colin Edwards in Qatar Colin EdwardsColin Edwards made a dazzling start to the new MotoGP world championship season in Qatar tonight, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider finishing the opening practice session of 2009 in third ...
Dazzling start by Colin Edwards in Qatar
Colin EdwardsColin Edwards made a dazzling start to the new MotoGP world championship season in Qatar tonight, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider finishing the opening practice session of 2009 in third position.
The American's best time of 1.57.835 on his last lap was only bettered by Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi as the MotoGP field got accustomed to a new practice format. With track time reduced from one hour to 45 minutes under new cost-cutting rules implemented for 2009, Edwards quickly worked on fine-tuning the front-end set-up of his Yamaha YZY-M1.
Despite windy conditions, track temperatures were 10 degrees hotter than at last month's night test session, and Edwards quickly took advantage to move into second place with 19 minutes remaining. He only slipped down to third with a late attack by reigning world champion Rossi. Edwards though was only 0.396s off the Italian.
James Toseland was content with 11th place on the timesheets as the British rider set a best time of 1.58.850. That impressive display left him just 0.079s outside of the top ten. It was a morale-boosting performance from the 28-year-old who occupied a place in the top six until the closing stages to show two big pre-season crashes haven't dented his confidence going into his second MotoGP season.
The start of the new season was a special occasion for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad with the number 52 taking on extra significance. As well as being Toseland's race number, team manager Herve Poncharal celebrated his 52nd birthday today.
Colin Edwards 3rd 1.57.835 -- 17 laps
"I'm pretty happy to have started close to the front because it is always important to try and hit the ground running. We played around with the front-end mainly because I had a few issues at the last test in Jerez with movement on the front tyre whenever I tried to really push hard. It was a bit like a speed limit in Jerez but the changes we have made feel really good. It's not a massive change, I'm only talking a millimetre here and there but it has taken away some of that movement and that is crucial for me because I'm such a front-end guy. I'm happy it was the right direction too because you really can't afford to waste any time with less track time now. You've got to back yourself and your team that the changes you make are going to be an improvement, and tonight it worked out. I've still got some small issues but I needed to make this change because it is obvious the way I force the handlebars with my arms is different to Valentino and Jorge. I'm happy to have got a good start for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team and give Herve something to smile about on his birthday!"
James Toseland 11th 1.58.850 -- 18 laps
"I'm pleased with tonight because it has been a tough winter but I was in the ballpark right from the start. I'm eleventh but on the lap times I'm really close to the top six and that is really encouraging. The team did a great job with the base setting because I've not had much time on the bike, and their understanding of what I need has been fantastic. I felt comfortable on the bike and that was important for me. My right foot is a little bit sore after the crash in Jerez but it is not proving a big problem on the bike at all. I'm delighted with my recovery because for a while I couldn't even put any weight on my right foot. But if we had a race tomorrow then I'd be going for a top six position and that's where I want to be coming off the winter. I used the softer tyres tonight because with the track temperature ten degrees hotter than at the test, I wanted to save the harder tyres because that is what I'll need for the race. With the shorter session and less tyres, it really comes down to strategy and my team were brilliant. Hopefully now I'll be able to give Herve a belated birthday present on Sunday."
-credit: tech 3