MONTEREY, CA, JULY 17: Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards gave a command performance in announcing the extension of his contract into 2009.
At the start of Thursday’s pre-race press conference for Sunday’s Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the Texan was asked how his season was going. It wasn’t long before he made the big announcement.
“It’s going alright,” he said on a stage that included Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden, and Ben Spies. “I mean, haven’t set the world on fire, but it’s probably been my best MotoGP season as of date. And I’m here to say I’ll be here next year as well, with the French, the froggy man over there,” referring to Tech 3 Yamaha team owner Herve Poncharal, seated among the media, “I’ll be here for another year.
“A big thank you to, while we’re at it, (Yamaha race department boss) Masao Furosawa, (Yamaha Motor Racing managing director) Lin Jarvis, and Mr. Bob Starr here at Yamaha U.S. Everybody kind of collaborated and made it come together.
“I think the deciding factor was probably in Sachsenring when Herve (Poncharal) come to my motor home and he was on his hands and knees and he was crying a little bit and he was just begging me to stay and he pulled his wallet out and he had five euros in it. And I took it,” Edwards said to hoots of laughter. “I’m just joking. About the five euros, I’m joking. I’m happy to be staying here again and…what was your question again? Something about Laguna. I’ve been sitting here the whole time, thinking, what the hell am I going to say? I’ve got to say something funny.”
Edwards, who serves as his own manager, was clearly relieved to have a home for 2009.
“You know, all that stuff, it definitely, it plays a part, but it’s good to not have that in your mind any more,” he said.
A question from an Italian journalist about team orders prompted more laughs. Unable to understand the question, Edwards asked, “What the hell are you trying to ask me? I’m confused. What are you trying to ask? Say it short, in Italiano.” When the journalist complied, and asked the question in Italian, Rossi provided simultaneous translation for Edwards.
“Every year when we sign our contract we always make sure that Valentino gets to win the championship. That’s just in our contracts,” Edwards said to more laughter. “I’m just joking. No, there’s none of that in there. We’re out there to race. If Valentino beats us, it’s because he went faster. If I beat him, then maybe it’s because he had a bad day or something.”
Edwards put his best season in MotoGP to the Tech 3 Yamaha team, singling out crew chief Gary Reinders.
“Yeah, it’s been good, and again, Herve runs a good ship over there,” he said. “Got a lot of Yamaha support and Gary, Gary Reynders my crew chief, it’s just unbelievable. We clicked from the beginning and everything seems to be going right. Michelin obviously stepped up quite a bit and the year’s been going alright, I can’t complain.”
Edwards’ best finish in the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix is a third from 2005, the first year. Anyone who was there can’t forget the aggressive pass he made of Rossi going into the Corkscrew to take second behind Nicky Hayden.
Edwards won his final World Superbike race in the second leg at Laguna Seca in 2002. He’d come third in the first leg.
“I’m so tired of coming to this place and not winning, it’s bulls—t,” Edwards said. “I’m ready to win, you know. I think this year is probably the best I’ve been riding and we’ve got to do our work. We’ve got to do our work the next couple days and find the right package, the right tires, and the right set-up and really focus on Sunday afternoon. And not worry about Friday, Saturday. Qualifying, obviously, but we really need to focus a lot on Sunday afternoon and that’s what we’re here to do.”