Friday, January 27, 2012

Edwards set for 'emotional' Sepang return

Colin Edwards, the biggest name to sign-up for the new Claiming Rule Team class in MotoGP, will continue development of his Suter-BMW alongside the full factory prototypes at Sepang on January 31. 

The three-day test will mark an 'emotional' return to Malaysia for the Texan, who - along with Valentino Rossi - was involved in last October's fatal race-day accident for Marco Simoncelli. 

Shoulder injuries suffered by Edwards in the incident meant he missed what would have been his Tech 3 Yamaha farewell at Valencia, but he was fit enough to make his debut for the Forward Racing team during a test at Jerez in November. 

"Well first, going back to Sepang is going to be emotional enough,” said Edwards, during an interview with “I think it's important to go there and get back on the track after what happened a few months ago.” 

Turning to his machinery, the Texan revealed that his biggest priority at the test will be to improve the electronics that control the S1000RR superbike-based engine. 

"The bike has a lot of potential, but we are so held back right now we can only ride the bike at 65 percent because the electronics are not anything like what I am accustomed to and they aren't consistent enough,” he said. 

“With things like picking up the throttle smoothly and the traction control, it's almost like having to reinvent the wheel. 

“I've never worked with the Bosch system or Magneti Marelli before, but there were a couple of their guys at the test in Jerez taking notes, and from what I know they fulfilled all of my request as far as what we need at this next test." 

The 37-year-old, renowned for his development skills, added that chassis changes will only be made once he's satisfied with the electronics. 

“Until you can ride the bike at 100 percent, you are going to go in circles if you start changing things. You first need to fix the electronics, that is the main thing."

The twelve-time MotoGP podium-finisher insists he won't be bothered by the time difference to the factory-built machines at the opening test of 2012, but did give a lap time target. 

“I'm not worried about what kind of gap there will be; I'm more worried about being able to ride the hell out of a motorcycle... If I had to give a number, I'd be really happy with a time of 2m 03 or 2m 02. Can we do that? I'll just have to wait and see." 

A 2min 2sec lap would have qualified Edwards twelfth on the grid for last October's (800cc) race, and matches the pace of the Pramac Ducatis. The best lap in last year's Sepang pre-season tests was a 1min 59.665sec by Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner, but the 1000cc bikes should be even quicker. 

BQR's FTR-Kawasaki is expected to be the only other CRT bike present at the first Sepang test, alongside the twelve factory prototypes, with the other new teams electing to test in Europe or not yet ready to ride. 

Edwards will be the only CRT MotoGP rider using the Suter chassis or BMW engine in 2012. CRT bikes will be allowed extra engine changes and fuel capacity relative to the factory-built bikes from Honda, Yamaha and Ducati. 


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