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EXCLUSIVE Colin Edwards - Q&A

22 June 2013

By Christian Tiburtius

The biggest name to sign up for the new CRT MotoGP category in 2012, Colin Edwards has switched from a Suter-BMW to FTR-Kawasaki for his eleventh successive grand prix season in 2013.

The double World Superbike champion and twelve time MotoGP podium finisher recently spoke to Crash.net about his career - past, present and future.

In the interview, Edwards makes clear his desire to be on an M1-powered FTR in 2013, discusses the potential of Honda's Production RCV, weighs up the pros and cons of electronics and more...

Crash.net:
After all these years, what still motivates you to take part in such an extreme and competitive sport?

Colin Edwards:
I really don't know, that's something to ask my heart. I've ridden motorcycles all my life, I love them. That's why I built the Texas Tornado boot camp so that I could ride them and also train other folks to do it. The engine, speed, the racing smells, the bike, it's all of the above.

Also this project is about developing a bike and continuing to learn about motorcycles. I've always been good at that and I've always enjoyed finding that next tenth here and a couple of tenths there. I've always enjoyed development and making a package better.

Crash.net:
So you like the development aspect and are happy being seen as a development rider?

Colin Edwards:
Always, I've always enjoyed that. Even in my Superbike days at the factory Honda team, I could use those skills to build new stuff and play around with things and once you get to grand prix, the sky's the limit. You can change anything or do whatever you want so I became even more keen on that.

When you get into lengths, wheel rates, head angles and comparative trail, the numbers have an infinite number of possibilities. It's fascinating finding what works for you or a different rider

I'm always trying to chase that perfect lap. That doesn't mean there's no aggression involved though, when it comes to fighting for the flag, that's another aspect of it too. That's when you gotta unleash the beast.

Crash.net:
Some people say that you look a bit like Kevin Schwantz on the bike, did you base your style on his?

Colin Edwards:
Obviously he's a hero of mine when I was growing up, but I never tried to base my style on his. If there was one person I tried to base my style on, it would be back in the Motocross days and that was David Bailey. He was just the smoothest guy on the planet. It didn't matter how rough the track was, he was smooth as butter. With me it's the same, my fastest laps always look slow, they look like I'm getting a gallon of milk from the local store

Crash.net:
What would you say have been the lows and highs of your career?

Colin Edwards:
Oh man, probably the lowest point in my career was 97/98 when I got hurt and I was more or less out the whole year. That was hard to do, I was only 24 years old and found it really tough. There was kinda a light in the dark though because I got my Castrol Honda ride after that and won a couple of titles with them.

Probably the highlight, when you add a whole career together was Imola 2002 [the WSBK title decider against Troy Bayliss].

Other highlights were the three Suzuka 8 hour wins, one with Haga, one with Valentino and one with Kato. Those are all happy memories.

Those are all in the past though, in much easier times without electronics and without all the other stuff we gotta deal with nowadays. It was pretty bare knuckle stuff.

Crash.net:
You say that the times were easier without electronics?

Colin Edwards:
You know, it is what it is now. Some people are saying, 'Well let's take them all away to get better racing'. OK, if everybody does it then that's fine too.

One thing I would say though is that electronics have extended my career, let's say that. It's that safety net at the end of the day that doesn't allow you to flip yourself to the moon like in the old days. My career has definitely been extended by electronics, hell a lot of the development in electronics has been done by me in the last ten years. If you take them away, then you say 'there's ten years of work you can't use any more'.

Either way, if nobody has it, fine, we go back to the right wrist. If everybody has it I'm going to work to make ours the best out there. You could say they're bad from the racing point of view but good from the safety point of view.

Crash.net:
The 2012 season has to have been one of the hardest of you career right?

Colin Edwards:
Oh yeah, for sure.

We had a different plan that we wanted to do and we ran out of time. We were looking to use a Yamaha engine and doing something different last year and we just ran out of time.

Whenever we agreed to do the Suter thing, we got our asses patted on the back and promises and this and that and at the end of the day none of those promises came to fruition.

We were told that a new chassis was going to be built, that it was going to be a full team effort and in the end we were just given a package and it was 'There you go, thanks for paying us a sh*t load of money, we'll see you next year'. The BMW Suter just didn't work out like we were told.

If you talk to Suter, they'll tell you all day that it's the best bike out there and we believed a bit of it. We also believed that it could be improved and we didn't even have that. If someone throws you a package and puts hand cuffs on you, it's hard to make it better. There was no support there at all.

That was the reason we moved to FTR Kawasaki. Obviously there were other packages we could have negotiated for at the time too, but we were looking into the future. With the future being that Yamaha will have an engine available, good M1 engines that we can lease. We were looking at what we could do for a long term investment.

Crash.net:
You talk about the future, so you're signed to Forward racing for next year?

Colin Edwards:
Right now, no. I had a two year deal, this year and last year and I've yet to negotiate anything for the future. We know what we'd like, we just have to get it negotiated. I'm certainly 100% mentally involved with the project for next year though. I'm not just sitting around waiting for something to happen, I'm pursuing the project for next year, that's for sure.

Crash.net:
So we can expect you on the grid involved in that project next season?

Colin Edwards:
Yeah, I would say so.

Crash.net:
What's the thinking behind using the Kawasaki engine?

Colin Edwards:
We're kind of using it to develop the chassis, at the same time though, we're using it seriously and trying to wring every last ounce of power out of it.

The problem at the moment though is that we're struggling with the gearbox. At the end of the day, it's still a street gearbox. Any time you take a big old V8 Mustang and get 800 horsepower out of it, the first thing's going to happen is that you'll f*ck up the gearbox, and that's kinda the boat we're in.

We have to change some parameters on the electronic shift to make it smooth which means that we're losing time - we've also got a little bit of a lag in there. We have to do it for safety reasons though to make sure we're not shattering gearboxes.

Crash.net:
What kind of spec do you think the Yamaha motor will be?

Colin Edwards:
You got me, from what I heard it's going to be the first spec they start with next year is what they'll sell. As far as any upgrades go, they'd either have to be paid for or wouldn't be available. Whatever happens though that package will be faster and better than what we have right now.

Crash.net:
And it would be a full pneumatic valve engine, rather than the spring valves which Honda plan to use in their customer bike…

Colin Edwards:
Don't let the spring valve aspect of the Honda scare you though, that thing's gonna be fast as hell. I've heard some numbers and lap times and compared to the prototypes, there's not much difference. They're pretty much on par.

Spring valves against pneumatic valves are sure a limitation rev wise, but if you sort the power out and put it where you want it you can ride valve springs.

Crash.net:
So you think the customer Honda will be competitive?

Colin Edwards:
Oh I know it's going to be competitive. As far as winning the world championship, probably not, but as far as being able to compete day in day out for a top 6 or 8 position, absolutely.

Honda aren't going to start any race program which isn't serious, you know that.

Crash.net:
How does your current bike compare with the ARTs?

Colin Edwards:
We struggle, we struggle off the corner. That smooth power delivery they have is just very friendly and they've got their electronics sorted out from having ridden them last year. I did a test on one in Brno and it's really good.

You just have to look at Espargaro and de Puniet, they're always one and two.

Crash.net:
Do you think that MotoGP is in a good place then?

Colin Edwards:
Oh man, that's what we're telling everybody anyway (laughs)

No, I do think it's in a good place for the future. Whenever we do get the bikes evened out though and the electronics sorted, whenever they sort out the rules and what needs to really happen you're still going to have the same teams in front.

The main problem we always had in GP is getting bikes on the grid. I'm hearing that next season we're going to have a few more bikes and when you get these teams in place and they set their stakes in that'll be great. That's the first priority, getting bikes on the grid.

Crash.net:
I believe that you said once that the Moto2 system would be good for MotoGP?

Colin Edwards:
Moto2's just a great championship, they've all got the same engine and there are really no electronics involved.

Crash.net:
Would you ever consider riding in it?

Colin Edwards:
Oh, no. I rode Herve's Tech3 Moto2 bike to give him some feedback and that was enough. I've just been on big horsepower bikes since I was 18 years old and I can't really look back to being on a bike with 110 or 120 horsepower and flogging it. I do that at the Bootcamp.

Crash.net:
The Texas Tornado Bootcamp is a kind of fantasy world for guys, right?

Colin Edwards:
It's more or less a wonderworld. If you like motorcycles, shooting guns, hanging out telling war stories and having a few beers it's the place for you.

Crash.net:
Ben Spies recently suggested that MotoGP could be made more competitive if the tyres were just made to a lower spec?

Colin Edwards:
Yeah, I agree with that to an extent. At the same time you've got to understand how much work I did with Michelin back in the day in Superbikes and GPs. Then you had a package and you designed the tyre for it. If you needed something Michelin or Bridgestone would build something for that package.

Now the philosophy is completely different and you have to build your bike around the tyres. If you have chatter, you can't say the casing on this tyre's a little too strong or too stiff on the side. You have to figure out a way of making the bike work with that tyre.

The advantage that we used to have where we just had to design a good feeling motorcycle and put a tyre into it is gone.

Back in the day when we used to develop tyres it used to be so much fun because they'd just say 'sh*t, what do you need, let's build it'. Now, instead of the tyre manufacturers spending their money building a tyre for you, you've got to rely on a factory or FTR or Kalex to make a chassis to suit the tyre.

Crash.net:
Many fans would like to see you back in WSBK one day, is that a possibility?

Colin Edwards:
I had an offer at the end of 2011 to do last year and this year, it just didn't line up though. I chose to stay here with the CRT thing after having chats with Ezpeleta and the big wigs saying that this was the future of MotoGP. As one of the older guys here it made more sense to do that.

As far as WSBK goes, I don't feel I have to go back there and prove anything else, also things just haven't lined up for me to go there. When I look at the amount of effort and money flying around here, it's far more.

If you tell me I have to go back to a championship where I can't change head angles or custom taylor the bike to myself, that's kinda hard to go to if you've been here for a while. It's the fascination for the technical level that keeps me here.

Crash.net:
Apparently, you were going to retire at the age of 32…

Colin Edwards:
That was back in the 500 days when I first got started and everybody was getting flipped to the moon. I followed most of those guys and was friends with Lawson, Schwantz and Rainey and I see how broken those guys got and I just knew that 32, 33, 34, that's probably all you want to do. That's probably all your body could handle really.

Once they changed to 4 strokes in MotoGP though, it definitely extended your career expectations. We had a little safety net there.

The idea of retiring doesn't frighten me. I've been traveling Europe since '95 and that's 20 years. For me retirement just means going home and spending more time with the kidos and my family. Would I miss it, sure, but at the moment I'm still having fun.

Crash.net:
Did Marco Simoncelli's death make you reconsider that?

Colin Edwards:
You know, it can also happen at home with a big old truck, a lorry can pull out and drive right over you. We put ourselves at a calculated amount of risk and sometimes freaky sh*t happens, you can't control everything.

That was tough, hell it was tough on everyone. He was one of the bright young stars. I would say that the three guys that seemed to have some pretty good charisma in the paddock were me, Valentino and him.

We all three had to come together and one of us didn't walk away. It didn't settle well on anybody, it's racing motorcycles, and it sucks.

Crash.net:
If your son wanted to be a racer, what would you say?

Colin Edwards:
He can do whatever the hell he wants to do, my dad supported me and I'll support him. It doesn't matter if I say yes or no, he'll probably do whatever he wants anyway. Fortunately he's out of the bike thing at the moment; he's playing baseball and soccer.
Crash.net:
As the time goes on do you feel you have to train any harder?

Colin Edwards:
I don't have any regimented gym time where I've got to go this day or that day. Recently my wife was training for the triathlon so I trained with her, I just stay fit.

My daily routine is more taking the kids out in the boat or playing baseball in the yard.

Now that everybody's running on Bridgestones rather than the Michelins, the bike's got a lot heavier and we had to figure out how to make the bike light turning again because they're getting pretty strenuous.

I think too much of an obsession with training is more a brain thing. Some guys have this brain thing where if they haven't trained for a week or missed a certain day, they turn up at the race track thinking 'I missed that days training, I'm not as fit as I could be' and they've already set themselves up for failure.

I had a team-mate like that one time and he used to be his own worst enemy. I just choose not to worry about that. It's more important to be mentally fit.

Crash.net:
Do you think there should be a minimum weight limit in MotoGP?

Colin Edwards:
To be determined. I really don't want to comment on that, because you may penalise people more than you help others. Someone like Dani would need to carry 20 pounds on his bike, which is harsh. Having said that though, it doesn't really bother me

Crash.net:
Do you leg dangle when braking?

Colin Edwards:
I don't and I never have throughout my whole career. I thought there might be something to it so I tried it in Malaysia a couple of years ago and I almost fell of the bike. I need my knees and feet on the bike so that I can squeeze it.

When you take a leg off the rest, you put all the weight on your arms, you ride a lot of the motorcycle with your core. The only time I take my leg off the rest is because I'm about to crash my brains out or it's an 'oh sh*t!' moment. I never do it on purpose because I'm trying to take as much weight off my arms as possible already.

When I was behind Valentino, I know that when he did it, he out braked himself and almost ran into the gravel. If there is an advantage, I don't know about it.

Crash.net:
Thanks for taking time out to answer my questions - 'It don't git no better!'

Colin Edwards:
It don't git no better baby!


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