Tech 3 Yamaha got its Italian Grand Prix weekend off to a much more favourable start as Colin Edwards and Ben Spies ended free practice in a strong fourth and sixth respectively.
The satellite Yamaha team has endured a trying start to the season, with Spies' fifth place finish at the Qatar opener proving a small highlight in what has been an otherwise disappointing first three races.
Nonetheless, Edwards kick-started his plans to turn things around in Mugello by reverting to the setting that took him to sixth position last season, a decision that paid dividends immediately as he troubled the front runners throughout the day.
“I'm really happy with today because the first three races have not been easy at all. Nothing had worked at all so far this season, so basically I completely changed the set-up of the bike today. I just told my team to change the set-up so it was completely the same as Mugello last year when I had my best result at this track.
“We changed riding position and got my weight moved forward because I've been having a problem keeping weight on the front this season. Now it just feels so natural and the bike does exactly what I want it to do. When I want the bike to do something it actually does it instead of me waiting and wondering why it didn't work. Now it just turns and it feels like I'm spending much less time on the side of the tyre. I turn in now really quickly and don't run wide or have to work hard to get the bike round the corner.
“I want to say a big thanks to Tech 3 and Yamaha because it feels like my bike again and I'm riding with much more confidence.”
Three tenths and two positions further back was Spies, the American shrugging off both his ankle injury and his inexperience of the Italian circuit to make consistent progress up the order to eventually land sixth – ahead of Casey Stoner, Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden.
“This track is definitely a more difficult place to learn but it is a super fun track. There are a couple of corners that are really difficult to learn and it can take a while to get into a rhythm. But coming here on the back of a couple of bad results and being immediately this fast on such a technically challenging track is really good for me.
“It doesn't feel like I should have been sixth and I guess that is a good sign. I thought I was doing fine so to see I was sixth, I was blown away with that because I thought I'd be about tenth or just outside the top ten.
“I'm still having a bit of trouble with the ankle I hurt in the practice crash in Le Mans. There's quite a bit of ligament damage but the only time I really feel it is when I'm trying to tuck in tight on the straight. It's not a major injury but it will take a few weeks to fully recover. On the bike it hurts but it's not slowing me down.
“I'll analyse the data tonight because as always when I'm starting fresh on a new track, there is more time to come from my riding and the bike. But to be sixth on my first day at such a difficult track is a good lift for my confidence.”