American MotoGP stars Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards participated in a Red Bull Indianapolis GP teleconference this week prior to the coming weekend’s Red Bull Indy Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The following is the transcript of Edwards’ portion…
MODERATOR: You have made no secret about the package that you have for the CRT bike that you have this year. You guys have struggled with the electronics and other various elements of the bike, and you guys keep chipping away and chipping away. But you did test some other bikes after the race at Mugello last month. Any news on the equipment from at Indy for you guys?
COLIN EDWARDS: Damn, how do you know about all this? All this is supposed to be a secret? (Laughter) No, right now I don’t know. Obviously we have what we have, make due with what we got, and there might be something at Brno. Honestly, I haven’t had any contact with the guys, and I don’t know if we are 100 percent this way or that way. So for the moment, we are with a BMW-Suter, and we are going to go racing.
MODERATOR: Indy is a unique circuit in that it has the long straightaway and which clearly favors the prototype and their extra horsepower. But it is pretty tight in the infield, which could probably give you CRT guys, which are using the production-based engines, maybe a chance to stay in the front. How do you see Indy on a CRT bike? It is a great unknown, because they haven’t run there yet. Do you see that as a circuit that maybe the CRT bikes could run closer to the prototypes?
EDWARDS: I have yet to be at a track where the CRT bikes work better anywhere than the prototypes. You know, to answer your question, I don’t know. At Laguna, honestly, the bike felt pretty good. The lap times were slow; all the CRT bikes were slow. All the lap times were slow, and when you have a short lifetime like that, I mean, it is the first time in my career that I got lapped. From 4 years old, obviously, I am not in the same spec of bikes as the leader, but that was kind of heartbreaking, to be honest with you. Indy, on the other hand, I don’t know. We are just going to have to go and see how far off we are, o the math, ride our ass off and see what happens.
Q: I just wanted to find out if you have figured out what your plans are for next season? Are you going to be back on a prototype bike next year or if you will remain in MotoGP? I just wanted to see what the plans are?
EDWARDS: Yeah, at the moment, I can’t answer that. You can imagine that I got everything from a two-year deal with these guys. If we can or if it is possible to get a prototype under us or a CRT route, you know, I have even thrown out the idea of let’s go Superbike racing. At the moment, I am with these guys, and we will see what it comes to.
Q: Someone, maybe me, suggested to you that it would be great to see you in World Superbike next year. I didn’t get to hear the response was, why don’t you tell everybody.
EDWARDS: I don’t know if I heard what my response was. Did I have a beer before I said that? I get this question about World Superbike. But you know how long I was there, been there and done it. And it is definitely a possibility: That is all I can say. I don’t know, I don’t know. I like the team where I am at, and I love the team that I am working with, and the team is one of the best teams that I have ever worked for. We will just have to try and make it work, somehow, some way.
Q: How important is winning now in your career?
EDWARDS: Yeah, it would be nice to win again. I am not going to lie to you. You know, it would be nice to know that you line up on the grid and that you have every chance possible to win as the next guy. That is the way my DNA is programmed.
Q: I have a few different things for you, but the first one is something a Speedway official told me about. It seems to be a badge of honor with you guys, and it is this arm-pump situation. It seems you haven’t been initiated as a motorcycle racer until you have had arm-pump surgery. Can you tell me about it?
EDWARDS: The arm-pump surgery, yes. On your forearm you kind of have a sheath, let’s say that kind of encapsulates everything, and when your muscle expands, it pretty much cuts the blood circulation off and it gets pumped up and it gets too thick for the blood to flow. I blew mine out a long time ago; I mean, you can do it naturally by working too hard or lifting something or whatever it does. I went to the doctor to go have the surgery when I was climbing a lot, and I thought I was getting arm pump, which I was. But come to find out I didn’t need it. I found out I was just working my arms too much, and I went to the doctor, and he said, ‘You don’t need it.’ You have already blown it out. So the doctor said to stop climbing and you will be fine, which I was.
Q: Everybody seems to have to get this at some point?
EDWARDS: Yeah, obviously the bigger the bikes, the heavier the bikes are and the harder you are going to work. It is a good thing, I have seen guys do it, and they have had the surgery and now they just don’t have arm pump at all. So it works and it leaves nasty scars if you have the wrong doctor, but, you know, chicks kind of dig scars. It is what it is, I guess.
Q: I know from talking to you over the years that this is a dangerous sport and you guys get beat up all the time, anyway.
EDWARDS: Yeah, exactly. You have scars all over your body when you are done here.
Q: Regarding this track, I know someone has expressed some optimism after the Brickyard race that those GRAND-AM cars running on the road course that it might wear in some of that asphalt a little better. Do you have any thoughts about running here this year?
EDWARDS: Man, to be honest, I haven’t really even thought about it. I think we were all pretty pleased with it last year. Yeah, even better if they are running it in and laying some rubber down. Even better. Sometimes we go to tracks where cars have been, and it is the wrong kind of rubber, and it just turns into ice when you put motorcycle rubber on it.
Q: Everybody is pleased but Casey Stoner?
EDWARDS: Oh, yeah. You are going to take that up with him.
Q: When we spoke earlier in the year at Sepang, you were a bit optimistic about the formula and you were a bit down on prototypes. Now it seems to have turned around some. Was there a point at which you sort of changed your thinking about the whole concept?
EDWARDS: Well, whenever you see the prototypes getting faster and faster, and they are just getting further and further away from us. When we first started this gig in Malaysia, we were three seconds off the pace or 2.8 – whatever that numbers was – our thinking was that number would come down, and our development schedule isn’t nearly what the prototype guys are. And that gap has only gotten bigger. A lot of the stuff that we were conned into let’s say, we were going to have a new chassis every other week and blah, blah, blah, and you know the rest of the story. It just really hasn’t come to fruition. The gap is just getting bigger at the moment.
Q: Where do you think the CRT bikes are suffering most? There is talk of a spec ECU coming in from (20)14 or (20)15. Is the electronics your biggest problem or is it the chassis?
EDWARDS: My biggest problem is from the starting line to the last corner and everything in between. Our biggest problem is that you put it all together. Engine, everybody has gone to this big-bang or V or a cross-plane crank, and it is more tractable power. It is just more common sense for racing. So we have strike one there. Chassis, I feel we are way rigid, the bike is too small. Strike two. Electronics, yes. The system we are on, my 2003 Aprilia had that on it and had better electronics than what I am on now. So strike three. It’s everything. I can’t sit here and point the finger at one thing, and say, ‘Well, if we had that we would be 10 times better.’ It’s everything. Electronics, yes, they have a habit, if the electronics work, you can kind of get everything else to work, chassis, engine wear. If your electronics are wrong, you can’t even get a feel for the chassis. And that is kind of where we are at.
Q: Do you think there is talk of a spec ECU for both the prototype and the CRT bike. Do you think having that level playing field where everyone is just playing with maps instead of traction control, fuel strategies or whatever? Do you think that would make a big difference or will the prototypes just cream everyone?
EDWARDS: Well, let me explain something. I have heard this spec ECU and spec ECU coming up, but it is impossible. For me, it is impossible to have one spec ECU to run on a cross-plane, inline four-cylinder, a V4 or all these different configurations of engines. They have different power characteristics, anyway. So we always play with the butterflies and the electronics to smooth out that power. So how are you going to field one spec ECU for all these different engines? Somebody is going to have an advantage right off the bat. And then you are going to change your engine to accommodate the ECU. So I don’t really buy it. A spec ECU with all of these different engines, I just don’t see it working.
Q: And yet the Ducati and the Yamaha, which are very different, both running Magneti Marelli, isn’t that a spec ECU already?
EDWARDS: OK, the ECU itself and all that crap in the ECU, there are so many different parameters. That is where all your time is, adjusting this and adjusting that. With Honda’s system and Suzuki’s old system, they change over, great. Let’s see what happens.
Q: Are your engine and electronics built in house or are they currently outsourced?
EDWARDS: My engines come to my knowledge, we bought a package from Suter, and Suter bought a package from BMW. So BMW sends the engines from Suter and directly from factory to factory, let’s say. They put it in, and we get the package. It is webbing it altogether, and we get the final product. As far as I know, we have nothing in house, in team house, let’s say.
Q: Do you have any idea if your engine spec is similar to let say, Melandri in World Superbike?
EDWARDS: I have talked to BMW, and we have got the same/same or maybe the crank. That might be a little bit different. But at the end of the day, they own the electronics that they have been developing for the last four years, so that seemed to work. Where we have been developing this Bosch system for a few months, and it still doesn’t work.
Q: As far as the chassis, have you spent much time changing your body position, say, more sitting in the bike, as opposed to sitting on it.
EDWARDS: The bike feels so small. It feels like you are sitting up on top of it. We have pulled the whole seat pad panel that was on the cushion; I just pulled it off. I will deal with my knees and legs later in life, but for now I need to get into the bike, and I am a little crunched up in the lower half, but it feels a lot better and I feel more in the bike.
MODERATOR: Most of the people on the panel are well aware of your Texas Tornado Boot Camp down on the outskirts of Houston. Folks come in for a long weekend or a week and have a good time, ride, drink a few beers, sit around the campfire and tell stories. But you have some special guests this week. This is no ordinary session.
EDWARDS: This is no ordinary Boot Camp. Yes, we have a lucky 11 or 12 that have paid to come and enjoy and some training and teaching, but at the same time we have Jorge Lorenzo, and Ricky Cardus from Moto2, Bradley Smith from Moto2, Randy Krummenacher from Moto2, Tommy Aquino, Dustin Dominguez. I don’t want to forget anybody. Yes, we have some big names here, and it is going to be fun. I can’t wait; it will be an exciting weekend coming.
MODERATOR: Now is this Jorge’s first time to Texas?
EDWARDS: Yes, his first time in Texas. He got off the plane and said he felt like he landed in Malaysia. It’s 100 degrees here and humid as hell. For those of you that want to see pictures this weekend, you can always follow me @TexasTornado5 or @Lorenzo99 on Twitter, and we will be updating quite often with some pictures.
MODERATOR: What unique bits of Texas are you going to give Jorge at the camp this weekend?
EDWARDS: We have barbecue, and we will figure out some way to turn his gas off when he isn’t looking and he can peter out during the Superpole lap or something like that. That is kind of the initiation around here. We will figure that out on the fly. I initiated him to Texas golf this morning. I said: ‘Hey, get up. It’s 6:30, and we are going to play golf,’ and he said: ‘That’s too early. I don’t normally go to sleep until then.’ And then a couple hours in, he said, ‘Let’s just do nine. I can’t do 18; it is just too hot.”
MODERATOR: There is talk next year of there being three races in the United States with Laguna, Indy and a race down in Texas. What does it mean to you as an American to see the growth of this sport compared to say when you first came in the World Championship in 2003, there were no American rounds? Laguna didn’t come back until 2005, and now 11 years later, there might be three. Talk about the growth of MotoGP in America.
EDWARDS: You know, this might now be the most politically correct answer to your question but honestly, I think it awesome. The merrier, the more I get to hang around my house and my family and do what I love to do. That is awesome and the scary part of that question is the growth part. Are we growing? Yes, we are, but I am not sure that we are selling a lot more motorcycles than we were 10 or 15 years ago or if we are even selling them at all. But the reality is when we were at Mugello, the decline in attendance and I know that no one has any money to buy a ticket. But at the end of the day, that is Rossi’s home track, and it is normally nuts, and this year kind of scared me, to be honest with you. I was like, ‘Where did everybody go?’ I would much rather see Mugello wide open just because that is the heart of MotoGP racing, and that was just scary to me to see that and I don’t know why. I don’t know if it is economy or whatever.
Q: The question about three races in America reminded me of something. Mugello Saturday in the press conference, we had five Spaniards the front row of the MotoGP and the two pole sitters in Moto 3 and Moto2. And things are not looking very hopeful to follow you and Nicky and Ben, maybe in MotoGP. Where do you see the next great American road racer coming from?
EDWARDS: That is a good question. Give me 10 years because I am training my boy right now. Man, I don’t know. I know that we have little Joe Roberts from Houston, great kid. We have some young kids around that are running local, Dustin Dominguez. I don’t know; I just don’t know. I was just talking to Jorge this morning and Cardus, and they were talking about a little training camp that they have in Spain, that Jorge’s dad has, and they have 5- and 6-year-old kids on pocket bikes running full schools. It’s that Tiger Woods routine, and that is starting them on a bike as soon as they can walk and roll with it. I know that we have that here; that is what I did. But I am not sure how many kids are getting that opportunity at 3 or 4 years old to get out and do what they want to do, which is go ride.
Q: To me, the problem seems to be not so much the talent but the clearly faster Americans out there. There was a whole host of them that came over, but they seem to have all gone home and are racing Supersport or the Daytona Sport in the AMA. How do we keep Americans in the series? Do you have any ideas?
EDWARDS: You can ask Nicky on this and don’t quote me, but for the first time that I remember he was in the right place at the right time and had the right passport. Obviously he is doing a great job for Ducati, but there was talk about maybe Cal or keeping Valentino. But this is Ducati’s biggest market, and they need an American rider, and you don’t ever hear that usually. It is normally we need to have a Spanish rider and a Japanese rider on the bike. He had the right passport in this game, and it was a good play for him to have an American passport.