BROOKLYN, NY, NOV 24 - Anyone expecting an answer about the competitiveness of the CRT machine vs. factory prototypes will have been disappointed with the recently completed two-day test at the Jerez Circuit in Spain. For the first time, a seasoned and current MotoGP rider put a CRT bike through its paces, and when it ended there was no definitive answer on how things would look when the light goes out in Qatar next March.Colin Edwards completed his first test of the NGM Forward Racing BMW/Suter with an unofficial lap time only .03 sec. faster than the fastest of the Moto2 machines, and more than two seconds off his best dry track time from this year's Spanish Grand Prix. This was Edwards' first ride on the BMW/Suter after he'd missed the post-Valencia test while recovering from shoulder surgery. Edwards dislocated his right shoulder in the accident that claimed the life of Marco Simoncelli in Malaysia. The surgery to anchor the humerus bone to the shoulder was performed at the beginning of November, after which came a three week recovery period. The Jerez test marked the first time he was on a MotoGP machine since the day of the accident.Edwards's first impression of the BMW/Suter was that there was "a lot of work to do," though in a phone call from the Jerez Circuit he added "the bike is actually better than I was expecting." The BMW/Suter, which is the most popular of the CRT machines, is at about 65% of its potential he said, with the race on to find the other 35%. "It's all basically electronics right now, that's the number one thing."The team is going against the MotoGP norm by using Bosch electronics, though Edwards believes Suter is testing engines with both Bosch and Magneti Marelli, the system used by Yamaha and Ducati in MotoGP. At the moment, the system is years behind what Edwards used on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1. "I kinda feel like I'm going back in time, I'm back to 2003 on the Aprilia just figuring out the ride-by-wire system," he said.Until the electronics are sorted out, Edwards won't know how good the chassis is. At the moment, he said it was too stiff, but there could be a new frame when he lands in Malaysia for the late January, early February first test of 2012. What will certainly be different is the engine. The inline four-cylinder BMW engine is a screamer, he said, with a mountain of torque that needs to be tamed."We know where the thing has mountains of power, we just have to figure out to spread it throughout the powerband, make it a little smoother," he said.The combination of the Suter chassis and the BMW power means that he has to ride the bike more like a 250 rather than the YZR-M1, which involved "throwing it on the knee, pivoting around at full lean and getting off the corner like the Yamaha was. We don't have the electronics right, we don't have the traction control right and we don't have the comfort level to do that kind of stuff yet."Edwards flew to the test having just finished the final Texas Tornado Boot Camp of its inaugural year. When the year began, Edwards wasn't sure how the camps would turn out, but as the year progressed the camps morphed into something unexpected, and continuously exceeded his expectations. And he also found the campers had a clear idea of what they wanted to do."Generally it's riding motorcycles, shooting guns and a bunch of bench racing at night," he said.The camp also offers RC cars, go-karts, paintball, pool and ping pong, and pretty much anything else the campers might want-water sports on nearby Lake Conroe were part of one camp-but those diversions got little attention. "We brought all the bells and whistles and the reality of it is everybody comes and wants to ride motorcycles," he said. "The go-karts, Saturday night if they really feel up to it. And RC cars when the kids are there. They play with them. Last weekend was a little bit different. We had paintball, we had go-kart and RC cars, but we had a lot of kids there."What Edwards took away from a year of camps was the self-gratification of "seeing the improvement in people," which is measured nightly with a Superpole lap that incorporates the track's three main courses."The biggest difference is probably just how instructors and everything works in harmony now," he said. "Everybody knows what to do. If we need some one-on-one with somebody to get them up to speed, bam, one of us instructors is on it or myself. Whatever. And we all work... it's a well-oiled machine now."This year the machine included two and four-day camps. Next year will be similar, though Edwards and his instructors are kicking around the idea of incorporating two-day schools into the four-days."Quite honestly our curriculum and activities the two days were just...it's just hard to teach everything in two days that we want to," he said. "And we know the second day, right at the end of the second day is when we notice people start to really kinda get it and kinda excel and then they have the third day and the fourth day to keep going. So the two days we're, probably...our idea is to still have the two days, but incorporate them with the four days. So if you only want to do a two-day, show up Friday afternoon ride Saturday and Sunday, with the group that's already there. But we have enough instructors that we can get somebody up to speed pretty quick, can get up to speed fast enough if they're already in a group. That's kinda something we're thinking about incorporating."Now Edwards returns home for a delayed Thanksgiving with the family, then he's off to the woods to go deer hunting for a week. After that it's back to work. The 2012 season isn't far away.

 

 

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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.

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