Tech 3 Yamaha duo Colin Edwards and James Toseland will start next to each other on the second row of the grid for tomorrow's 28-lap Portuguese MotoGP race in Estoril.
American Edwards missed out on preserving his 100 per cent front row starting record
in 2008 by just 0.090s as he finished a qualifying session dominated by Yamaha and Michelin with the fifth best time.
Toseland, who will stay with the Tech 3 team for 2009 after agreeing an extension to his current contract in Portugal, was just one place further back with a best time of 1.36.790 securing him sixth. Despite his lack of circuit knowledge at the challenging Estoril track, Toseland still beat a host of more experienced rivals to help Yamaha claim four of the top six places on the grid.
Both Edwards and Toseland go into tomorrow's race with heightened expectations as they prepare to debut Yamaha's pneumatic valve YZR-M1 motor. The engine is a significant improvement on the long Estoril start/finish straight, while also helping with mid-range acceleration compared to the spring valve engine they used in Qatar and Jerez.
Colin Edwards 5th 1.36.289 24 laps
My first qualifier was decent and my second and third felt better. But on my last tyre I made a couple of little mistakes and that costs you a lot of time. I was pushing extra hard knowing I'd lost time and just ended up making another mistake trying to claw it back. But I was less than a tenth off the front row and while it would have been good to keep that record going I'm still happy, especially for Yamaha. To have four of us in the top six is how it should be when you don't have chatter, you have a chassis with feel and confidence from the front. And now we've got the new engine too I can't wait for the race. I've gone for a bit of a different tactic with Michelin this weekend for the new motor and thanks to them because it is working. I've gone for outright traction more than momentum to carry lots of corner speed. I'm not so worried about being the fastest guy mid-corner now because it was no good when somebody in front of me was acting like a roadblock. Now I've concentrated on corner entry, getting the bike turned and getting the power to the ground on the exit to use that extra performance from the motor. I'm still doing better lap times with that tyre so it is obviously working.
James Toseland 6th 1.36.790 21 laps
I'm a second off pole and still sixth which just shows how fast the boys at the front are going because normally a second covers all of us. I'm really pleased to get on the second row and it is a massive boost for me knowing I can come to a track I've never even seen before and be competitive near the front.
Considering the first session was damp, and I crashed at the start of the second session, with the track time I have had a second row start is a great effort from the team. I had a small problem with my first qualifier on the left side but the other two worked really well and thanks to Michelin for that. I just made a few small mistakes because to go two seconds quicker on the qualifying tyres on a track I don't know is a big ask. Everything happens so much faster and I was braking too late and approaching the entry too fast. Against these guys you can't afford to make a mistake. I'm looking forward to the race with the new engine. It is a big improvement and if I had the old engine here, coming off the last corner would have been difficult. It wouldn't have mattered how hard I worked on the rest of the lap, I'd have been passed on the straight. But coming out now in third gear I can feel how much power the new engine has got. Today also showed what a great job Yamaha has done with four of us in the top six.