World Superbike Champion Colin Edwards suffered the biggest scare of his MotoGP - and perhaps motorcycling career - today at the Sachsenring, his RS Cube exploding in flames at over 120mph after the fuel cap fell off.

The American was lucky to escape serious injury as both he and his Aprilia were sprayed with fuel, which then ignited, forcing him to bail off the burning machine.

His three-cylinder then torched itself in a German gravel trap, while Edwards was left with burns to his right arm and thigh.

"Today I discovered it's bad to be on the wrong side of a barbecue," said the Texan with a wry smile. "I was riding with the new chassis and saw some drops of liquid on my visor: I immediately thought it was rain, then maybe water from a bike in front of me. But then I felt something cold on my neck and a few seconds later burning heat... Fire! I was completely engulfed by the flames and decided to jump off quickly. I t was really scary - I hope that's the only accident I'll have like that."

Alice Aprilia project leader Gigi Dall'Igna gave more details as to what happened and admitted the events had shaken up their star rider - although he still qualified two places ahead of team-mate Haga, in sixteenth, in the afternoon first qualifying session.

"After braking the fuel went forward out of the fuel tank and onto the exhaust pipes starting the fire," said the Italian. "Colin was very prompt in jumping off and luckily didn't suffer serious damages. Edwards is human and was a bit afraid in the afternoon session but that's normal (after such an incident)."

Haga also wrote off one of the team's new chassis when he fell in the same session, leaving them on the old bikes for first qualifying and giving the team plenty to do before tomorrow's second session.

"Unfortunately that crash and Haga's one in the morning session destroyed the bikes with the new chassis," said Dall'Igna. "Anyway both riders lost a session and we are now rebuilding the bikes with the new chassis in order to be ready for tomorrow."