Colin Edwards held the ground in between MotoGP's big four and the rest of the field throughout Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix.

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider qualified in fifth - behind Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa - and held that position from the end of the first lap to the chequered flag.

The Texan had hoped that question marks over Pedrosa's fuel consumption and Stoner's fitness might allow him to battle for his second podium of the season. But with even a struggling Rossi staying out of reach, the #5 had to settle for finishing as the top satellite rider for the sixth time this year.

"Like I said yesterday, if you're the next best rider behind the top four in the world then you've done a good job and I rode the strongest race I could today," said Colin.

"I got a good start but we've been fighting some front-end movement all weekend and I knew early on I wasn't going to be able to go with Valentino in front of me. The tyres worked great but we were just missing something on the set-up that meant even though Valentino was struggling a little bit, I couldn't really put any pressure on him.

"As much as I couldn't comfortably stay with the four guys in front, it was pretty easy for me to run a pace that meant I could pull away from the group behind me. Once I'd got a comfortable gap it was just a case of staying consistent to make sure I didn't give anybody a chance of catching me."

"Colin had a brilliant weekend and though I don't like to say it, we were the best of the rest again," admitted team manager Herve Poncharal. "The top four are pretty much untouchable but to be the first of the rest is a great achievement for us. Colin could open a gap on the group behind him quite comfortably and he made no mistakes, which is always crucial."

Edwards, who lost fifth in the championship to factory Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso when he was taken out at the previous San Marino Grand Prix, is now just eight points behind the Italian, who was seventh on Sunday.

"I got a few more points back on Dovizioso for fifth in the championship and that is a good reward for the all effort my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 have put in. We've got three races to go and I'll be giving it my all as always because I really want that fifth spot in the championship," he declared.

Team-mate James Toseland, now confirmed as leaving MotoGP at the end of the year, has his sights set on seventh in the standings.

The Englishman is presently 13th, after a ninth place finish at Estoril, but has closed to within twelve points of seventh placed Loris Capirossi (Suzuki).

"I really enjoyed that race and it was good to be in an exciting battle with the second group. I was running pretty much the same lap times as Dovizioso (seventh) and Elias (sixth) for most of the race and there was a great battle between myself, Hayden and Capirossi. I was having the most fun in that race that I've had for a while," said Toseland, who will swap places with Yamaha's WSBK star Ben Spies next season.

"The difficulty for me was that I've been struggling with a cold all weekend and it is very difficult to take any kind of medication when you've got to race. Over the whole race distance I didn't realise how much the cold had taken out of me but it wasn't a big problem.

"I'm still only twelve points off seventh in the championship and that is my target now for the remaining three races. I really want that seventh place in the championship and am looking forward to giving the team a good finish to the year," he declared.

"I'd like to thank. James again for another determined race and again he proved he is a quality MotoGP rider. His lap times were really close to the top six again," stated Poncharal.


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