Front-end change transforms Colin Edwards’ fortunes

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Colin Edwards credited a front-end setting change for transforming his fortunes in Sepang today with the American topping the timesheets at the end of the opening day’s free practice.

The Tech 3 Yamaha has been struggling for form in recent races and he was even threatened with the axe unless his results significantly improved in the closing stages of the season.

Yamaha management said it would contemplate moving Ben Spies from its World Superbike team in a swap deal with Edwards last month.

But Edwards was in superb form at a scorching hot Sepang today, clocking a best time of 2.02.667 in this afternoon’s rain-hit session.

Edwards revealed it was a change to the offset of his YZR-M1 that restored his confidence as he edged out 2008 world champion Valentino Rossi by just 0.171s.

The Texan said: “It feels really good to be back at the front because the last few races have been tough. We have gone back to a front-end setting that I started the year on and it has transformed the bike and I’ve got my confidence back.

“We made a change at the Le Mans test with the offset and I started to have the best results of my career on tracks where I’d struggled before. I was fifth in Mugello and Catalunya, fourth in Donington and then I got on the podium in Assen, so I thought it was definitely the direction to go.

“I thought we’d stumbled on the magic setting, but since then I’ve struggled with the front-end. I have not been able to carry the corner speed I’d like and I’ve been running wide a lot. But now I’ve changed the front back to what I’ve known for most of my Yamaha career, it feels fantastic. Now the bike isn’t pushing off line at maximum lean angle and the riding just feels natural.

Before it felt like I had to really force the front down in the corner to get the bike steering. Now I know exactly what the front tyre is doing and for me that is crucial because my style means I rely on front-end feel so much. I’m running out of time to learn things at this stage of my career, but I’ve learned that I need to stick with what I know works.

“Michelin have got some good tyres here and my race pace was really consistent. Even when the grip was dropping off a bit I was still able to run the lap times. Even though there were a few drops of rain around I felt confident to push, and its been a long time since I’ve felt like that.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt