Le Mans pole setter Colin Edwards reckons tomorrow’s French GP is win or bust as he bids to put forgettable races in Turkey and China behind him.
The Texan was taken out on the first lap in Istanbul by Olivier Jacque and then suffered big Michelin rear tyre problems in Shanghai that left him languishing down in 11th place.
The double World Superbike champion already trails series leader Casey Stoner by 55-points after four races, but after claiming his first premier class pole position in France today, the 33-year-old told MCN: “Stoner is 55-points in front of me already so it’s a win or crash type deal for me at the moment. I’m not going to fool anybody. I’m going out there to win because I need maximum points looking at the championship.”
Edwards said he was hoping pole position would bring him some good fortune, as the previous three times he’s qualified on the front row in 2007, he hasn’t converted into a podium.
Ironically his third place in Jerez came in the only race this season that he’s not qualified on the front row.
“My best result came from the second row so today don’t mean anything. But our bike on qualifiers is phenomenal. All the problems we had in qualifying in the past we just don’t have. It’s just perfect and a dream to ride, “said Edwards, who was also happy with his pace on race tyres, though he was upset at Michelin’s recent criticism of his tyre selection for Shanghai.
Michelin claimed to have told Edwards not to run the tyre he did in China, but he said: “I’ve never said one bad word about Michelin and I get a long great with them. Finally after China I voiced my opinion a little bit and they threw me under a bus. They are protecting their image and I understand that but at the same I’ve been with them long enough to understand how they work. This weekend some of the pressure they’ve had lately has seen an improvement, and we actually have two tyres we can race on and that’s pretty amazing. In the other races we’ve been down to one. This weekend I’m pretty happy because I did 35.0 on the 30th lap of one of the tyres this morning.”
Edwards claimed first Yamaha podium in Le Mans back in 2005 but counted himself lucky to be even starting tomorrow’s race after a massive high-side crash in this morning’s third free practice session.
He revealed to MCN: “It looked a lot worse than it was. I was pretty lucky. I think it was the same thing that happened in Australia last year in the rain. I went into the corner and the rear just came around. It’s an issue that we have with this bike. I don’t feel like we can flick it left and right really hard and have it stick. We kind of have to ease it in and that was the proof of that out there today. I got in there a bit hot. On the computer everything looked identical but the rear came round and it snapped me over the side. I just remember being on the ground face first and seeing out of the corner of my helmet that the bike was following me in and I jst thought ‘oh f**k.’ I was trying to get away from it and I bounced off the rear wheel and it spun me over. I was amazed. I jumped up and it was like ‘holy shit that didn’t hurt at all.’ I was really, really lucky.”
Asked about his thoughts on tomorrow’s race and who would pose the biggest threat in wrecking his hopes of claiming an elusive first MotoGP victory he added: “Casey is looking really good. Hopper (John Hopkins) and (Carlos) Checa will be there but it will just be a matter of getting off the start and seeing who has what.”