Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Colin Edwards continued his impressive winter testing form after a successful night test session in Qatar.
A best time of 1.57.515 left Edwards ninth on the final timesheets, though he was consistently in the top three for the
majority of the test as he continued an impressive switch to Bridgestone tyres.
After a short rain shower severely disrupted the first night and windy conditions made lap times slower than normal race pace on the second evening, Edwards was able to lap at a consistent pace on the final night as he experimented with a range of chassis settings on his YZR-M1 machine.
With the first race back at the Losail International Circuit on April 12, Edwards also took advantage of the improved track conditions to complete a full 22- race simulation in readiness for the opening round. He was able to maintain a fast and consistent pace throughout thanks to the impressive endurance of Bridgestone tyres. His best lap in the race simulation of 1.57.932 was set on his last lap.
“I am really happy with this test. It didn't start well with the rain on the first night and the wind blew a lot of sand and dust onto the track on the second night, so the lap times were still way off normal pace. But I was still one of the quickest and I've got to say the Yamaha and Bridgestone combination is very impressive”, said the Texan rider. “I've just been concentrating on trying to find a good setting for the race, even though we expect the temperature to be a little warmer when we return but I'm really confident. I couldn't believe my race simulation. The grip from Bridgestone is really incredible and I'm seriously impressed. The grip just gets better the more distance you run on it and I did my best lap in the race simulation on the last lap. That's just not something I'm used to at all.
All we've been doing is working hard as a team. Things are going great with Guy Coulon. We've got one more test in Jerez to work on a few more things but I'm ready to race. I feel stronger and more motivated than ever.”
“We have spent a lot of this test working on the chassis setting, though it has not been easy with the weather and track conditions”, added Guy Coulon. “There wasn't much of a window to work in because later on it gets really cold and humid, so there is not much grip. But we had no troubles during the whole test and Colin was really happy after the race simulation. It is the first one he has done on Bridgestone tyres and we have gained a lot of experience and information. The consistency of the tyres is very impressive and Colin was faster in the second half of the simulation. Now we have a better understanding of both the front and rear tyres. And the big positive is that we didn't change the setting too much from Sepang, so we have a bike that is working on two different tracks in very different conditions.”
James Toseland made encouraging progress throughout the test to post a best lap of 1.58.786 on the last night. That was 1.5s faster than his previous best time as he worked hard to gain more confidence with front tyre grip. Toseland was also building up his own confidence after a spectacular crash in Malaysia last month, but he left Qatar in high spirits in 15th position having made positive steps forward with the development of his YZR-M1.
“It has not been an easy test but on the last night I felt like we were finding a good direction and I was certainly feeling a lot more comfortable on the bike. The crash in Sepang hit my confidence and it took me a while to find my rhythm, but I feel I can go much faster now”, he said. “There is still plenty of work to do but I was 1.5s faster on the last night, and I just need time on the bike. I had a bit of an issue with the feeling from soft front tyre, which I had to run later on during the evening as the track temperature got cooler. I was comfortable with the hard front tyre but it was too hard for the colder temperatures. I can still improve and I learned about the bike and the tyres at this test, and at the end I'm only just over a second behind Colin and he has been consistently fast.”
“James finally found some confidence on the last night but we had a bit of a problem solving a movement issue he had with the soft front tyre. We had a similar problem in Sepang but it is not chatter. It is more of a hopping movement under braking”, said Gary Reynders. “We have tried a lot of different settings without really solving the issue, but the big positive is that now James feels that he can go faster. His confidence has returned and he feels he can push much harder. We'll be working hard in Jerez to make some more progress and we'll speak with Yamaha to see if they have some solutions.”
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team concludes its pre-season preparations in Jerez on March 28/29.