Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Colin Edwards started his 2009 MotoGP campaign by clocking the third fastest time in the first ever 45-minute practice session under the lights on the Losail International Circuit.Edwards completed 17 laps of the 3.34-mile circuit, site of Sunday night's season-opening Qatar Grand Prix, his best a 1:57.835 mins. The Texan trailed only former world champion Casey Stoner and current World Champion Valentino Rossi.Edwards said the breakthrough came via a front end fix following the final pre-season test late last month at Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. The new set-up allows Edwards more feel in the front end, which all riders find critical."I'm pretty happy to have started close to the front, because it is always important to try and hit the ground running," he said. "We played around with the front-end mainly because I had a few issues at the last test in Jerez with movement on the front tire whenever I tried to really push hard. It was a bit like a speed limit in Jerez but the changes we have made feel really good. It's not a massive change, I'm only talking a millimeter here and there, but it has taken away some of that movement and that is crucial for me because I'm such a front-end guy."With only one 45-minute session on Friday, Edwards and his colleagues found they had to maximize their track time. Less time was spent in the garage talking and making changes and more time was spent on the track. No one completed more than 19 laps, with most doing 17 or 18."I'm happy it was the right direction too, because you really can't afford to waste any time with less track time now," he said. "You've got to back yourself and your team that the changes you make are going to be an improvement, and tonight it worked out."I've still got some small issues but I needed to make this change because it is obvious the way I force the handlebars with my arms is different to Valentino (Rossi) and Jorge (Martinez) and I needed to do something different."And, finally, Edwards revealed the true motivation for his opening night performance."I'm happy to have got a good start for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team and give Herve (Poncharal, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team owner) something else to smile about on his birthday!"

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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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