Having started the 2009 MotoGP season with fourth in Qatar, Colin Edwards was once again the highest ranked satellite rider during Friday practice for the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider worked his way steadily forwards during a 45-minute 'information gathering' session, eventually setting a best lap time of 1min 49.697sec - which placed the Texan fifth fastest, 1.420sec from the factory M1 of Valentino Rossi.
“Today was all about gathering information,” said Edwards, who completed 19 laps. “My thinking even yesterday was to start with the hard tyre because we knew it was going to be cold and the forecasts were showing rain for tomorrow, so I needed to get some information in the dry before the race.
“I started out with the hard tyre and didn't change it for the whole session, just switching the same tyre between bikes to play around with the setting. I'm sure if I had run the softer compounds I could have gone quicker, but Bridgestone think the hard front and rear will be what I'll need for the race.
“It feels to me like the left side of the tyre is a little bit too hard and I've got to make sure I get it warmed up. The right side feels really good, but you can't take too much risk in the beginning on the left, but once it comes to temperature it works fine.
“The bike feels really great to show what a great job Yamaha has done again. Today was a good start to the weekend and hopefully I can continue that to give Yamaha a good result in Japan,” he concluded.
Team-mate James Toseland was the faster Tech 3 rider for much of the session, but eventually slipped back to tenth, 0.377sec behind Edwards. However, the Briton believes he too could have done a 1min 49sec lap.
“That was a bit more like it,” said the Englishman, who finished 16th in Qatar after contact with Toni Elias. “Right to the end I was looking good to be around the top six but I caught Takahashi on my last lap when the tyre was working pretty good, so I'm sure I could have got into the 1min 49s.
“My guys have done a great job because I had a slightly different setting on the front fork today to get a bit more control under braking. This place is all about hard braking and that is an area I've needed to work on. I've got a bit more control on initial braking so it doesn't upset the bike as much when I'm turning in.
“I ran most of the session on the hard tyre with the weather not looking too good for tomorrow, but I did try the softer one at the end just to check on it. I doubt we'd be able to run it in the race, even if the temperature is quite low. So if it rains tomorrow and it's dry for the race, at least I know I'll run the harder tyre.
“It was a difficult first race but we're not losing motivation and my team have all stuck together. Rain or shine I'm determined to get a good result for them and Yamaha in their home race,” he declared.