MOTOGP » Colin Edwards
Colin Edwards was born in Houston, Texas on February 27th, 1974. He rode his first bike at the age of three, entered his first race a year later and was quickly winning Motocross trophies. His Australian-born father, Colin Edwards Sr, also raced motorcycles and played a big role in Colin's early career. Colin was a top US amateur through his early Motocross career, before making the switch to road racing at the age of 16 and continuing a successful amateur career. Turning pro just before the 1992 season, he raced for South West Motorsports in the National 250cc series, winning five races and beating Kenny Roberts Jr. to the title.
In 1993, aged 19, Colin moved into the AMA National Superbike series and spent two years developing his talents on a Yamaha Superbike, finishing 6th in the championship in his first year and 5th in 1994. Yamaha then moved him into the international field, and in 1995 he contested his first World Superbike Championship with the newly formed Yamaha Factory Team.
Davide Brivio, now a Yamaha Factory Racing team manager, was the World Superbike team director then, and the team was based at the same Italian headquarters that the MotoGP team uses today.
After spending 1995 learning the new tracks, Edwards achieved his first podium position in 1996. In the same year he teamed up with Noriyuki Haga for the Suzuka Eight-Hour, the pair becoming the youngest duo to win the race in its history. He missed most of 1997 sidelined through injury, then joined Honda in 1998, pulling off a double win at Monza and finishing 5th overall in the Championship.
In 1999 he finished second, but 2000 saw him victorious; he won eight races and the World Superbike Championship title. He lost his crown to arch-rival Troy Bayliss in 2001, but recaptured it brilliantly from the Australian the following year, taking 11 race wins before leaving the World Superbike Championship on a high note to join Aprilia's MotoGP outfit for 2003.
His rookie year in the MotoGP World Championship saw him finish 13th overall, but he fared better in 2004, riding a Gresini Honda alongside Sete Gibernau. Achieving his first two MotoGP podium positions, Edwards finished the championship in fifth place then signed on as Valentino Rossi's factory Yamaha team-mate for 2005.
In his debut season on an M1, Colin finished an impressive fourth in the championship - with three podium finishes - and was the only rider to take points at all 17 races, helping Yamaha to take the manufacturers' and teams' titles.
By 2006 Edwards was desperate for his first MotoGP victory, but the new M1 struggled badly with chatter and he concluded the year seventh in the points, with one podium, while Rossi lost his crown to Nicky Hayden at the very final round. Earlier in the year, Hayden had denied Edwards his first race victory after a dramatic final turn showdown at Assen. Hayden ran off track after an unsuccessful attempt to pass Edwards, but Edwards (unaware of Hayden's error) fell moments later while trying to stay in front, handing the Honda rider the win.
Edwards, Rossi and Yamaha all hoped to correct their 2006 misery during the first year of 800cc racing but, despite promising winter tests and high expectations, the new M1 proved desperately underpowered compared with Casey Stoner's Ducati, while Michelin was caught out by changes to the tyre regulations.
Edwards at least took his first two MotoGP pole positions, plus two podiums, but ninth in the championship was well below expectations. Rossi wanted Edwards to remain alongside him in 2008, but Yamaha had one eye on the future and signed double 250cc world champion Jorge Lorenzo to join the Italian.
Nevertheless, Yamaha and Edwards were both mutually keen to continue their partnership and he moved to the Tech 3 team, attracted by its 2008 machinery and switch from Dunlop to Michelin tyres.
Edwards was rejuvenated by the move, taking pole at round four (China) and then delighting Herve Poncharal's team further by claiming a podium at their home French GP (round five).
The Texan took a further podium at round nine (Assen) and qualified on the front row a total of five times on his way to seventh in the championship and a new contract for 2009.
A high-profile fall-out with team-mate James Toseland, who nabbed his crew chief Gary Reinders, raised tensions heading into the 2009 season, but Edwards flourished with Guy Colon by his side, adapting to the Bridgestone tyres and finishing inside the top five on seven occasions, including a run to second in the wet at Donington Park.
Ending the season in fifth position overall, Edwards finished as the top satellite rider by a clear margin and was even able to beat factory Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso in the very final race.
Having seen off Toseland, Edwards found harmony with new team-mate and fellow Texan Ben Spies for 2010, though the young prodigy’s excellent form on the Tech 3 Yamaha magnified the elder rider’s fairly average year aboard the YZF-M1.
Consistency made him a reliable hand, but a fifth place finish at Motegi was Edwards’s highlight from a nondescript set of results that left him down in 11th overall.
Nonetheless, despite musings of retirement, Edwards was retained for 2011, this time with Cal Crutchlow partnering him, and he enjoyed something of a minor renaissance, comfortably out-pacing the new pretender and returning to the podium at Silverstone, remarkably just a week after breaking his collarbone in an accident in Barcelona.
Consistently breaching the top ten, Edwards’s season was brought to an upsetting conclusion when he was involved in the accident that claimed the life of Marco Simoncelli. Also injuring himself in the accident, which ruled him out of the final event, it denied him the chance to bid a proper farewell to Tech 3 having already announced his move to newcomers Forward Racing for 2012.
Assuming the responsibility for its ambitious BMW-engined CRT project, Edwards’ decision to join Forward Racing was seen as an experienced barometer for a field of mostly young upstarts to be measured against.
However, while Edwards’ commitment to the cause was never in doubt, the Suter chassis would struggle for competitiveness, particularly alongside the more favourable Aprilia-engineered ART machines. When a lack of development would see Edwards also fall well behind the FTR machines of Gresini and Avintia by mid-season, the typically candid American proceeded to launch a scathing attack on the bike, calling it a ‘piece of sh*t’ in front of amused journalists.
Nonetheless, while many expected this outburst to mark the end of Edwards’ relationship with Forward Racing, the Swiss team would instead view the criticism as constructive, choosing to re-sign its rider but switch to the more favourable Kawasaki-engined FTR for 2013.
Seen as a change for the better, having only ended 2012 as the seventh best of only eight full-time CRT entries, Edwards heads into the new year keen to reassert his authority on what will be a larger field of rivals.