Monster Energy Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards led a Yamaha parade to three of the top four places in a cold, wet morning practice at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Japan.The Texan gathered speed throughout the 45-minute session, the first ever for the control Bridgestone tires in the rain. With five minutes to run he chased Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi, finishing the lap with the second fastest time and only .002 secs. behind session leader Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro). Edwards improved his time on each of the next two laps, with his fast lap netting him the top spot with a gap of .656 secs. to Stoner.But Rossi had more in him and the world champion’s best effort put him second to Edwards at a gap of only .052 secs. Stoner was .604 secs. off Rossi’s time in third and half a second better than Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo. The final Yamaha in the field, Edwards’ teammate James Toseland, was the slowest of the 18-rider field.Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen was fifth fastest and .296 secs. faster than Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden. Hayden struggled for much of the session, languishing at the bottom of the order. But his final four lap run was encouraging. Each of the four laps was faster than the previous one, with the Kentuckian taking 3.5 secs. off his earlier best time to finish with a 2:03.723 mins. final lap. The late burst propelled him up the field to sixth, his best yet placing in his brief tenure with the Ducati Marlboro team.Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) was the first Honda down in seventh and one better than Sete Gibernau on the Grupo Francisco Hernando Ducati.Then followed more Hondas; LCR Honda’s Randy De Puniet, Repsol Honda teammates Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, and Scot Racing Team MotoGP’s Tuki Takahashi.The session was held in 50 degree rain, with a track temperature of 54 degrees. Little improvement is expected for this afternoon’s qualifying session, though the forecast for Sunday’s race is for sunshine and moderate temperatures.MotoGP Practice:1. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 2:01.8412. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2:01.8933. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 2:02.4974. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:03.0075. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 2:03.4276. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2:03.7237. Alex De Angelis (Honda) 2:04.1368. Sete Gibernau (Ducati) 2:04.4549. Randy De Puniet (Honda) 2:04.46910. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:04.489
Edwards a Wet Wonder
Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor
Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.