Late last season came the announcement that Colin Edwards had signed-up for what is arguably the toughest job in MotoGP; being team-mate to six-times world champion Valentino Rossi.

Edwards clinched the factory YZR-M1 ride after two often uncomfortable seasons in grand prix - first with Aprilia and then Telefonica Honda - but the downside of the new deal was that he would be a clear 'number two' in a team built almost entirely around Rossi, and would have no machinery difference to hide behind.

However, the 'Tornado' maintains that life in the Italian's shadow isn't as bad as it may appear:

"It's been great, we started out I guess as team-mates - or friends or whatever you want to call it - back in 2000 when we did the Suzuka 8 Hour together," reflected Colin on the Edwards/Rossi partnership. "And then 2001 again, we just kind of carried on that friendship.

"I think, as far as being team-mates, I couldn't think of anybody else in the paddock I'd rather be team-mates with. I mean we get along great; you have got a multi-world champion developing the bike with you. So how could it be bad, that's the question?" he insisted.

As a double World Superbike Champion and an emerging MotoGP contender, Edwards 'enjoys' his fair share of motorcycling superstardom - but being team-mate to a living MotoGP legend has produced some surprising side effects:

"It's probably the only time in my career when I walk out the garage in the back and I hear everybody go "ahhh" (disappointed)!" he smiled. "It's pretty funny..."

But after so many years as the number one star does that sort of thing not bother him?

"Well, I have been doing this (racing at world level) for a long time and it is great, honestly, because I walk out the garage and I can actually go to the motorhome. I don't have to fight and claw my way and run out the backdoor," replied Colin.

"I just cruise right out the front door, wave to people and they just say "alright", so it's all good. I don't have a problem with it. Let all the pressure be on him (Rossi) and I'll go out there and fight and do what I can do."

Working alongside Rossi during pre-season testing and in the opening GPs of 2005 has also given Edwards a unique insight into why the #46 - who hasn't lost a premier-class championship since his rookie 2000 season - is able to be so incredibly successful.

"I can kind of answer it the best way that I can; the guy is phenomenal," stated CE II. "I have seen the way he works, I know how he works, I know his attitude. The biggest thing is his attitude, there is not one inclination of maybe I might get beat this week, he doesn't think that way in any shape or form.

"Secondly, to beat him is going to take 27 or 28 perfect laps and then is that enough? I don't even know if that's enough," he admitted. "The guy just has a will and a determination that I've never seen, never experienced. That's what's got him to where he is. That and a lot of talent of course."

Nevertheless, Edwards was quick to dismiss the myth that Rossi alone has caused the Yamaha revival - and credits 'geniuses' behind the scenes who have produced a steady stream of effective new parts.

"It's easy to sit here and say it's Valentino or whoever it is," said Edwards when asked about the incredible M1 transformation. "I think you have to look at the big picture, you have to look at some of the Japanese that came into power just before Valentino came over to the team.

"You have to look at the engine configuration, the firing order that they decided to do. Valentino is definitely a key aspect in that and so was his crew chief (Jerry Burgess), but a rider cannot sit there and tell you if you need this thickness in the chassis and you need this thickness in the swing-arm and so on.

"Basically they bring you pieces and you test them and say that's better, that's worse - and where the genius part comes in is the guys behind the scene that are bringing you the good pieces," he revealed. "When they bring you the good pieces it's easy to pick them out. If they don't then everything is crap and obviously everything is not crap here."

After a difficult start to the 2005 season, Edwards claimed his first Yamaha podium with a strong third last time out at Le Mans and currently sits sixth in the world champion standings... 54-points behind Rossi, who has won three of the four races.

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