China MotoGP: Colin Edwards talks Shanghai pole

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American Colin Edwards continued Yamaha and Michelin’s domination of MotoGP qualifying in 2008 when he stormed to a surprise Shanghai pole position today.

Edwards produced a brilliant late attack to post the fastest ever lap of the Shanghai circuit as a 1:58.139 easily beat Yamaha rival Valentino Rossi by 0.355secs.

Edwards’ third career pole position was the first for his Tech 3 Yamaha squad since Olivier Jacque claimed pole at the 2002 German MotoGP at the Sachsenring.

And Yamaha and Michelin have now topped qualifying in all four races so far in 2008, though Bridgestone did enjoy some joy in today’s hour-long session with Casey Stoner joining Rossi on the front row.

A delighted Colin Edwards, who had struggled with a serious grip problem yesterday, said: “I struggled yesterday but today it really came good. My guys and the Japanese got together last night and they came up with a set-up scenario to get the bike working which is completely foreign to what I’ve been riding.

“I haven’t used this set-up in all my time at Yamaha, but based on the problems I was describing they suggested a plan and when I was thinking about it I was like ‘do what’? We were just looking for more traction because I struggled so badly in that area yesterday.

“We made a big change to the bike to get some weight on the rear and it worked. It was a great team effort and it definitely worked because when I went out this morning I was a second faster instantly. And it felt easy because I had no issues from the front like yesterday and my comfort level went up from 50 per cent to 95 per cent.

“My first two qualifiers weren’t bad but it felt like I was playing a computer game when the shadow passes you and you are always trying to catch that shadow. It felt like I could see where I wanted to be but I just wasn’t hammering the throttle.

“So for the last tyre I went into turn one and knew I just had to get in deep enough and I really hammered it round the first two corners. I was 0.3s up just in that one section.

“From there I rode a good lap but I didn’t have any real moments. It was weird because I didn’t really have to take any risks like normal to do that time. Everything was pretty calm and collected and the Michelin qualifier is awesome.”

Edwards though admitted he is expecting a tough race tomorrow, regardless of whether dire weather forecasts predicting heavy rain materialise.

Edwards’ pace on race tyres is not as fast or consistent as Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner and he said: “It is going to be at tough race. I haven’t done a 59 yet on a race tyre and Casey and Valentino look to be doing consistent 59. I just got to get a good start and hang in there.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt