Edwards and Spies eye top six in 2010 opener
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo Colin Edwards and Ben Spies are confident they can mount a dual challenge for the top six in the opening MotoGP race of 2010 at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar tomorrow night.
kick off his eighth MotoGP campaign from the third row of the grid after a closely fought opening qualifying session of the season in Doha this evening.
In warm but windy conditions under the spectacular Losail International Circuit floodlights, Edwards declared himself delighted with set-up tweaks on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine that drastically improved turning performance.
The changes boos ted Edwards' confidence that he can emulate his fourth position in the 2009 Qatar MotoGP race having lapped at a consistent pace on Bridgestone's hard rear race tyre.
Edwards also impressed on soft tyres and surged into the top three in the final 20 minutes. But in a typically frantic final few minutes, Edwards dropped down to eighth despite setting his best time on his last lap. The 36-year-old though was only 0.174s from Randy de Puniet in fourth place.
Fellow American Spies will make his eagerly anticipated Monster Yamaha Tech 3 debut from 11th on the grid after the reigning World Superbike champion finished with a best time of 1.56.271. That was less than 0.5s away from fourth and the Texan is confident he can fight for a top six having set his best time of the session on hard compound tyres.
Tomorrow's race is scheduled to run over 22-laps and is the first in the 18-round world championship that concludes in Valencia on November 7.
Colin Edward - Position: 8th - Time: 1'56.005 - Laps: 22
"I made the bike a hundred times better than yesterday. I was really worried after last night that I was going to struggle but I pretty much went back to last year's set-up and I'm happy with it. The bike just turned a lot better tonight and I had a lot more feeling from the front tyre on the brakes. Yesterday I was so lost it felt like I was riding somebody else's bike. I'm confident for the race because I did some good laps on the hard tyre. I'm a bit more consistent than those in front of me on race tyres, so I don't think I'm out of the hunt for fourth place tomorrow at all. At the end of the day I was really close to being fourth on the grid. I had a couple of little issues on the soft tyre but Bridgestone have still done a great job and I'm looking forward to the race because of the consistency I've got on the hard race tyres. As always I'll be giving it my all for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team."
Ben Spies - Position: 11th - Time: 1'56.271 - Laps: 22
"It wasn't a good session really and I never got to use the advantage of the soft tyre. I didn't get it done and I never really put in a clean lap. But I am happy with the lap time we put in on race tyres. The positive is I did my fastest time on race tyres that had a lot of laps on them. The top four guys are obviously a little bit quicker on hard tyres. But the majority of the people that were quicker than me were on soft tyres, so we've just got to try to get a good start. I think the race pace I've got is still good, but I'm going to have a hard time passing people down this long straight. I'm right behind Colin on the grid and hopefully jump in behind him and go."