Toseland 11th in sunny Spain
Colin Edwards made a flying start to the highly anticipated European phase of the 2009 MotoGP campaign in Jerez today, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider clocking the sixth best time in opening free practice.
The Texan's best time of 1.40.703
was only 0.4s outside of the top three in the 45-minute session, which was run under warm but cloudy skies, a welcome respite from the bad weather that has seriously disrupted the first two races in Qatar and Japan.
Edwards, who was as high as second position on the timesheets at the halfway stage, spent the majority of the session concentrating on improving the electronic set-up of his YZR-M1 machine to cope with the hard acceleration points on the 2.748 miles circuit.
“That was a good solid start and I'm happy with the bike. Yamaha has done a great job because we seem to go from track to track and be right up with the leaders from the start. There are a couple of things with the electronics and chassis set-up that we can definitely find at least another half-a-second to go consistently quicker around the 40.3 area. That's not going to trouble Valentino (Rossi) but that would be a big step for us and put us in contention”, he explained. “With the electronics we just need to get the anti-wheelie working a bit better. Yamaha did a great job with that in the winter and we needed that improvement on a track like this where you accelerate hard out of a lot of slow hairpins. I'm losing a little bit of time on acceleration and we can still make it better, but my guys at Tech 3 know what they are doing and I know we'll make a big step for tomorrow. I'm doing those lap times and I'm not 100 per cent comfortable, so that bodes well for the weekend knowing we've got a lot of room for improvement.”
James Toseland produced another encouraging performance to build on his first top ten result of the season in Japan last weekend. A best lap of 1.41.461 pushed the British rider into the top ten in the closing stages.
The 28-year-old unfortunately dropped down to 11th but he ended just 0.
4s outside of the top eight, a switch to a harder front fork setting to improve feel in the hard braking points failing to yield the expected improvement in handling performance of his YZR-M1.
“We went for a harder setting on the front fork to help with some of the heavy braking points but it didn't really work as we'd liked. We also changed the rear a bit from Japan and the balance wasn't really there. We didn't really have time to go back to plan B but even with a couple of small issues I'm not too displeased with my time and I know my potential is much higher”, he said. “I think what is going to be crucial is to conserve the tyre here over race distance and that's something I'll work out with my team. I ran the harder rear today because of the hot conditions and even that was sliding around a little after about eight laps. I could see a few other people were having the same problems, so a decent race set-up will be critical. A bit more time would have put me in the top eight and it wouldn't have been a bad afternoon, but we know where we can improve on the setting and be much stronger tomorrow.”