SEPANG, MALAYSIA, OCT 21 –
Colin Edwards was the best of the non-Hondas on a day he was doing damage control off the racetrack.The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider was flying the Yamaha flag in the absence of Jorge Lorenzo, the World Champion who’s recovering from finger surgery, and his teammate Ben Spies, who’s a long way from being race ready after a nasty crash in qualifying last weekend at Phillip Island.Edwards finished the first day of practice for Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix behind three Repsol Hondas – Pedrosa, Stoner, Dovizioso – and two San Carlo Gresini Hondas – Simoncelli and Aoyama – and not far behind. Edwards was .040 of a second slower than Aoyama, who just got in front of him at the end of the session.
“Yeah, no, you know, the dirt track saying’s ‘Get off the track hot.’ We got off hot and obviously, hell, we tested here at the beginning of the year,” Edwards said after MotoGP free practice at the Sepang International Circuit. “We’ve strayed from that type of setting, we’ve come back to it. Yeah, it’s working good. I’m feeling comfortable.”The Hondas have an advantage in grip, which gives them a better launch down the track’s two long straightaways. It’s a bigger help this year because the track, always hot and greasy, is bumpier than in the past. Edwards said his Yamaha runs “good once you get it in fifth and sixth gear. It’s not bad. It’s just that little pop off the corner. At the end of the day this track’s about being smooth and staying hooked up. That’s all we’ve really been working on all day is just trying to keep traction.”As for keeping top Yamaha honors, Edwards wasn’t sure. He’d like to see his friend Spies pick up the pace, but “at the end of the day, I know he’s in a lot of pain. I know what he’s done. Pretty much he pulled the tissue off the ribs like I did in Barcelona. I wasn’t right for months. It’s a good month a and a half before you can even cough or sneeze without wanting to cry.”Edwards is racing the Yamaha at Malaysia for the last time. Next season he’ll be racing a BMW/Suter motorcycle for Forward Racing, an Italian team. He’d floated the idea of racing with a Yamaha motor, but Yamaha Motors Europe (YME) wasn’t interested. Edwards being Edwards, he wasn’t shy about being rejected, though, to his credit, he didn’t name names. Still, some took it as a swipe at Yamaha, which he was at pains to deny.”So obviously there’s been some things in the media about, I don’t know, Yamaha Europe that I’ve said this or said that,” he said. “I can’t help it that people are thinking what I’m saying and they just don’t say it. As soon as somebody says it, which I’m kinda known for, then everybody runs with it and puts it into their own language or however they want to say. So at the end of the day, Yamaha, as a whole, have given me my livelihood. Given me lots of money to race motorcycles and Yamaha US, Yamaha period, are a part of my family, not just me a part of their family”And Yamaha U.S., especially, have been golden; they’ve been so unbelievably overboard. I don’t know if that’s the right word to accommodate any situation that might arise. The comments I made were obviously directed not at YME but two particular entities that are at YME. And I don’t think either one of them would empty their bladder on me if I was on fire. So those are the two – whatever comments you heard – there’s two there and they know who they are. So I don’t really need to name names or do that, but they know who they are.”Edwards has nothing but praise for Yamaha U.S., “all the way through the staff, top to bottom, just golden, just unbelievable. It’s been a pleasure and my Boot Camp is still Yamaha. I’ll be a Yamaha guy for the rest of my life. Whatever we got going next year we got going next year, but my contract is with a team, it’s not with a manufacturer.”