Monster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards said he was “reasonably happy with the second row,” after qualifying sixth for Sunday’s season-opening Grand Prix of Qatar, but thought he had a shot at being in the top three.Edwards was only .045 secs. out of fifth, but .4 from the front row of Casey Stoner, Valentino Rossi, and Jorge Lorenzo. He shares row two with Andrea Dovizioso, in his Repsol Honda debut, and Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi.For Edwards, who spent a career mostly on Michelins, this is his first race on the control Bridgestones after a limited testing season. He said “even though I’m a veteran I’m still learning.”In the lone 45 minute night qualifying session, Edwards jumped into the fray when he moved into third just past the halfway point. Edwards had run as high as third during the two practice sessions, but wasn’t able to follow through to the end. And this evening would be no different, though he’s in good company with three Yamahas in the top six.Edwards came to Qatar with a different set-up than he’d been running all winter “to cure some movement issues with the front when I push harder. I remember the first time I rode the Bridgestones and when you push you get like a hopping and skipping sensation. Not chatter, but popping. So I’m thinking I’m pushing to the limit and going as fast as I can go, well that isn’t as fast as it can go.”The new setting is better but I’ve still got some of those issues and it is a little confusing. Valentino (Rossi) is going fast and hauling ass and he doesn’t have any issues with movement on the front, and Jorge (Lorenzo) is the same. I feel like I can go faster and sometimes when it stops moving, I’m in the middle of the corner thinking I could be carrying 3 or 4 ks more speed. So I’ve got to figure something out.”He said he’d made progress and felt there was more speed, but he’s having to anticipate the movement and that’s not helping the lap time. “I have to plan ahead to brake a little early so I can get off the brakes earlier and get on the gas earlier to stop what feels like chatter. When I start pushing, the more load I get, the more chatter I get. I need to figure out pulling out some load off. I’ve got to figure out whether I need to go softer or harder with the front forks. Jorge (Lorenzo) is one way and Valentino (Rossi) is in the other direction. I’m stuck in between them and obviously it doesn’t work. When I was with Valentino it was rare that I was softer than he was. There are times when I think I’m not controlling the front enough. I get in there and it starts and it feels all loose. Maybe I do need to go harder. I just wish I were an engineer because right now I’m not sure which direction I need to take.”
Edwards on Row Two in Qatar
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.