TOKYO, JAPAN, OCT 4 – Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards had his best result in what’s been a very disappointing year in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix in Motegi.The two-time World Superbike champion spent the race battling for fifth place with San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli and Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi. In the end, Edwards put a sweet move on Simoncelli and prevailed to take fifth, his best of the season. And, though fifth isn’t horrible, being 27 seconds behind the winner is.Edwards had a difficult start to the season. The YZR-M1 didn’t handle to his liking and the more he finished downfield, the more frustrating it was. Prior to the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix he lashed out at Yamaha, while hinting that they were going to supply a little something for Laguna Seca and the Red Bull Indianapolis GP’s. Meanwhile, the team was trying everything. Eventually they moved the wheels back, while keeping the wheelbase the same, which put more weight on the front. The front end is the area where Edwards, and many others,notably the Ducatis, have struggled the most this year.Part of the reason for his travails is that Edwards is finding it difficult to get the most feel out of the Bridgestone front tire after a life spent on Michelins. Only now is it starting to come better, and with it results.”We put a little more weight on the front this weekend, which felt good, much more my style,” he said. “I’m happy with it. Still, 27 seconds; that part pisses me off. I feel like I’m riding my ass off. Those guys out front are just, wow.”The guys out front in Japan were Casey Stoner, Andrea Dovizioso, Valentino Rossi, and Jorge Lorenzo. Stoner had also found the front end challenging all season, until he changed the geometry and balance on his Ducati Marlboro GP10 at the previous race in Aragon, Spain. Stoner won that one and again in Japan, holding off Repsol Honda’s Dovizioso over 24 laps. The Fiat Yamaha teammates Rossi and Lorenzo staged a heavyweight fight for third, with Rossi emerging victorious. Later, Lorenzo would complain to Yamaha that his tactics were too aggressive, and Yamaha management would meet with Rossi to discuss it.The Yamaha YZR-M1 of Rossi and Lorenzo is a better machine that the satellite machine of Edwards and teammate Ben Spies, but the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 bike is no slouch, as Edwards discovered while racing with Simoncelli.”That Honda definitely is different when the tire is new than when it drops a little bit,” he said. “It’s got a little more pop off the corner than our bike does,” which is no surprise, since Simoncelli is getting factory support. “But once you get up to fifth, sixth gear, ours is probably better. But once that tire goes down a little bit, I think that Honda’s a little more difficult than our bike. Our bike’s on a more even keel.”And now that the team and Edwards have revised the balance of the Yamaha, so is Edwards.
Edwards Gets Best Finish of the Year
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.