With his Tech 3 Yamaha and MotoGP future hanging in the balance, James Toseland got his Indianapolis Grand Prix weekend off to a highly encouraging start with sixth in Friday's wet free practice session.
“I'm really happy with that session and it was definitely the positive way I wanted to start the weekend," said the Englishman. "For most of the session I was running in the top four or higher once I'd built up my confidence after the first few laps."
Using a new softer wet weather suspension setting, Toseland quickly mastered the varying grip levels and was as high as second position before finishing 1.3sec behind fastest man Dani Pedrosa but 0.24sec quicker than team-mate and home hero Colin Edwards.
“I went with a wet setting that was a bit softer than usual and it worked really well and gave me a lot of confidence with the front-end. I could really push in the places where you could make up a bit of time and that helped me a lot,” explained Toseland.
“The new surface on the track is really, really tricky. It holds the water and it starts to puddle, and you aqua-plane. It's quite dangerous. The old surface is one of the grippiest surfaces I've ever ridden in the wet.
“So you've got half the track where you've never had so much grip in your life and half the track where you have completely zero grip. It's a completely different balance with the bike you've got to find."
While Toseland was quick from the early stages, Edwards took time to build up his confidence.
“This place really freaks me out because some sections of the track look really slippery. But in reality there is so much grip that you can ride almost like it's dry,” said Colin, the top satellite rider in the world championship.
“You can be so aggressive in some parts that at the start you have to convince yourself just how hard you can push. The track is so wet it looks like a mirror but that's where you can really attack with such good grip.
“You just have to take bigger bites each lap and how fast you go depends if you hit some of the standing water on the new sections.
"Thankfully the forecast is for dry weather for the rest of the weekend, but if it changes I'm sure we've got a really good wet setting and we definitely learned some things that will help for the future.”
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 has not yet signed any riders for 2010.