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Tech 3 wants Edwards 'forever', future test rider?

8 December 2009

Following two successful seasons together, Herve Poncharal rates Colin Edwards so highly that he wants the Texan to remain part of the Tech 3 team after he finishes his MotoGP racing career.

Edwards left the factory Yamaha team to make way for Jorge Lorenzo at the end of 2007, and was relocated inside Poncharal's satellite squad for what was labelled as one final year in grand prix racing.

But the former double World Superbike champion was rejuvenated by the move out of Valentino Rossi's shadow, while the family-like atmosphere at the Tech 3 team seemed to suit his personality perfectly.

Edwards finished 2008, his sixth year in grand prix racing, with one pole, two podiums and as the second-best satellite rider, with seventh in the overall standings.

A Michelin rider for much of his career, Edwards then proved that age is no barrier to versatility by adapting seamlessly to Bridgestone tyres for 2009 - a year he finished with a career-best equalling second position in the British Grand Prix and as the top satellite rider with fifth in the overall rankings.

Although he made less podium appearances, and took no poles, the strength of the 35-year-old's season is illustrated by a final points total of 161 (over 17 rounds) compared with 144 (over 18 rounds) in 2008. Edwards failed to score points just once, when he was taken out on lap one at Misano.

In terms of points-per-race, 2009 was Edwards' strongest season since 2005, when he finished a best-yet fourth in the championship for the factory Yamaha team. Edwards, now contracted directly to Tech 3, will ride alongside countryman Ben Spies for 2010.

“I am more than happy to have one more year with Colin and definitely he is now part of the family at Tech 3. Hopefully forever,” said Poncharal, speaking exclusively to Crash.net.

The Frenchman went on to explain that, just as Yamaha wants to retain Rossi as long as possible - then continue its association with the Italian after he has finished racing - Tech 3 wants a similar partnership with Edwards.

“Yamaha has said they would like to keep Valentino until the end of his career and then keep him as an ambassador. Okay, Tech 3 is a very tiny company compared with Yamaha, but we would like Colin to remain forever part of the Tech 3 family in the same way,” he said.

In terms of what that might mean, Poncharal hinted that he would like Edwards to become a test and development rider for Tech 3.

That would be a valuable service, since Tech 3 will enter the new Moto2 class as both a team and constructor from 2010, while future MotoGP technical rules are expected to hand a similar amount of engineering freedom to independent teams in the premier-class.

Rather than satellite teams leasing a complete motorcycle from a factory as at present, it is believed that the new MotoGP regulations will try to promote the popular Moto2 format of independent chassis designs powered by an affordable factory-built engine. Moto2 will have a control engine, but MotoGP will continue to have open engine competition.

“When you think about the future, there will be some development opportunities for us in the MotoGP class as well as Moto2,” confirmed Poncharal. “So why not think about Colin helping us? It is a bit too early to talk about that, but why not? He still has a lot of enthusiasm and we have a lot of respect for him.

“Anything could be possible. And Colin has got a son now, so...[laughs]. Maybe I'll be retired by the time the next generation of Edwards is ready to ride for Tech 3, but why not! You never know!”

One area in which Edwards' development skills could be of benefit to Tech 3 during the MotoGP test ban, is with the new Moto2 project.

Tech 3 has previously told Crash.net that it is unlikely that Edwards, Spies or any other Yamaha MotoGP rider will try their Moto2 bike this winter. Nevertheless, Poncharal admitted it is a tempting idea and that Edwards has already shown an interest.

“Colin has helped a little bit with the Moto2,” he said. “At Valencia we brought the bike, which was not completely ready, but we showed it in the hospitality without the fairing. Colin sat on it and gave Guy [Coulon, his crew chief and head of Tech 3's Moto2 project] a lot of information, like changing the shape of the tank etc.

“There would be some riders I would never ask [to try the Moto2], but Colin loves motorcycles, loves racing and loves the technical side. He loves to give his opinion and comments. I'm sure if I asked him he would do it.

“But we have limited track time and Colin is already in the USA and has a lot of things to do. The main thing is also to make our Moto2 race riders Yuki [Takahashi] and Raffaele [de Rosa] feel at home on the bike.

“If it had been 2006-7-8, when there was no problem with the economy, maybe I would have asked Colin to ride it - even just from a media point of view it would have been exciting.

“Now we are not in the scenario. But if I have the chance to put Colin on the bike I will take it. And I'm sure Colin's comments and feedback would be very, very accurate.”

Poncharal then underlined just why he is so keen to keep Edwards as part of his team.

“You can rely on Colin's comments. Always,” he said. “You just have to ask Yamaha, Ohlins, Brembo and especially Bridgestone how good Colin is as a test rider and at being able to explain to all the engineers, in every department, what he is feeling.

“For me he is the top guy for that. Maybe the top guy.”


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