Colin Edwards, a Houston native nicknamed “The Texas Tornado,” will offer candid insight about his performance, competitors and life in the exciting world of MotoGP motorcycle racing before every event in 2010 in “Tornado Warning.” It’s the third consecutive season in which Edwards will offer this exclusive insight for www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com.
Two-time World Superbike champion Edwards, 36, is in his eighth year of MotoGP competition, riding this season for Monster Yamaha Tech 3. Edwards and the rest of the MotoGP riders will continue the season Sunday, Oct. 10 at the Grand Prix of Malaysia at the Sepang Circuit (6 p.m. ET, Oct. 10, SPEED).
The colorful Edwards competed in the third annual Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 27-29 at IMS along with fellow American MotoGP stars Nicky Hayden and Ben Spies, and MotoGP superstars Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo.
Motegi, that was more like it. What was the big change, the big turnaround?
Let’s see: What was it? Motegi, last year, I should have had a good result there last year if we wouldn’t have had the rain map on the bike in the dry race, which is just a mistake that was … Shit happens, I guess. We went there, and we just remembered all the problems we had last year. And one of our main problems was just wheelie, just wheelie everywhere. It’s hard to go forward when the front wheel just keeps coming in the air. We pretty much just kind of moved both axles backward, front and rear, we just moved them back. Just enough. Not a whole bunch. Get a little more weight distribution over the front of the bike. Man, that seemed all the difference. I felt so good, so confident. I’ve been running into this front-end confidence pretty much all year. It feels like when I let off the brakes, all the weight just transfers to the rear and I don’t have any front feel. And now we’re putting a little more weight on the front, and now the front seems to stay planted. I feel like I can actually turn the bike and kind of pivot the rear around. It worked out pretty good.
Is that something you have tried before this year or was it something new?
We have never tried it ever. We’re rear, from countershaft to rear axle, we’re longer than we’ve ever been, with Bridgestones. We used to run it quite a bit longer with Michelins, but we had to shorten it up a lot with Bridgestones to make the tire work in the right temperature range and pressure range that it needs to work. We never moved it back, because it’s always, let’s just say, a baseline length that we’ve used. My crew chief had an idea, hey, Guy said: “We’ve got a big problem with wheelie here so let’s just try something a little bit different. It should give you a little more front-end confidence at the same time, and wheelie should be better.” And it all worked out.
We’re talking millimeters here, right?
We’re talking half a centimeter. Maybe not even that. This bike is real finicky. You change a couple of mils on this bike, and it turns into a completely different motorcycle. We didn’t go 2 inches or anything like that. Just small changes. At the same time, I think what probably helped at Motegi is we ran around most of Friday and all day Saturday morning on the hard rear. It was looking real bleak, to be honest with you. Ben and I were both struggling, and Valentino was struggling, as well, with grip. Once we got into the qualifying session and we put the soft tire on and do some lap times, it was like it was a completely different motorcycle. Everything just worked. It just worked a lot better. Put a good qualifying time in, strung a few good laps together, and it was like, “Huh, OK, this is how it’s supposed to be.” It all started working out then.
You have said a few times this year that it’s pretty meaningless to ride at the limit for 10th or 12th place. What was it like to ride at your maximum again for a meaningful result, fifth place? Was there a moment when you thought: “This is cool. This is why I race motorcycles?”
That moment kind of hit me on Saturday whenever we put the soft tires back in to go qualifying, and I went, “This feels so easy.” It felt comfortable; it felt like I can push. I don’t feel like I’m gathering it all back together and struggling and limping around. I felt like I could actually push. That’s the difference. When you feel like you can push and you can fight and you can take some risks knowing that you can cut back tight or square it off or run some different lines and play around a little bit, that’s where confidence comes, as well. You’re just comfortable with the bike. It’s just a comfort level. If you don’t have confidence in the front or the rear or whatever it, it’s real hard to push when you’ve got your sphincter overload going constantly.
Did the ferocity of the battle between Valentino and Jorge for third surprise you at all? Were you surprised that the rivalry finally boiled over into a “Screw you. No, screw you!” battle on the track?
Well, you have to look at the whole picture. I’ve known Valentino for many years, and obviously I’m good friends with Jorge, as well. I think Jorge is the only one up to date … you could say Casey, too, but Jorge is more of a wall. If Valentino is trying to play some games with him and trying to jack with him, Jorge just doesn’t really put up with it or doesn’t care what he does. Jorge goes out and does his own thing. But when you look at Valentino and you look at that race at Motegi, that wasn’t about last year or this year or that particular moment. That whole thing is taking place because of next year, really. He’s trying to dig some screws in early for next year and get this new program he’s got going on over at the red camp. He’s just planting that seed; that’s all he’s doing.
I think it worked, because Jorge was complaining after the race. It seems like Rossi got into his head a little bit.
Yeah, that might have been the first time he’s got in there a little bit. At the end of the day, it’s motorcycle racing. Shit, I’m not going to say I run against a bunch of primadonnas. But there are a couple of out there. I don’t really think Jorge is one of them, or Valentino. But that kind of attitude to where somebody rubs you or touches you, it’s like, “Oh, what are you doing?” Shit, where I come from, you can knock somebody off the track and pretty much get away with it. It’s just a different mentality. Hell, rubbin’s racin’.
Odd question, but here goes. You’re one of the few guys now in MotoGP who doesn’t remove his inside leg from the bike and stick it out into the air, almost as a tripod, when in high-speed corners. Why?
Well, first off: I’m 36 years old. There’s something in the saying, “Can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” If I tried to pull my leg off, I might f*ckin’ fall over. It’s just something I’ve never done. It’s not in my repertoire, my bag of tricks. The reality of it helping you actually do something, I don’t see it. I’ve not gone to the school of sticking your leg out while braking. Motocross. But hell, I don’t want the bike moving around as much as motocross.
It seems like nobody started doing it until Valentino started doing it two or three years ago. I don’t recall seeing anyone doing it on the 990s.
There was a time a while back, Schwantz would do it occasionally. I don’t think he even knew he did it. It was more of a reaction, and that reaction usually is when you get that sphincter overload and you’re braking too deep and you’re trying to haul the thing down. That’s how Valentino started out as. Every time he would do it, he did it the whole time I was on the team, so ’05, ’06, ’07. He would do it occasionally. But it would be once or twice, three times a race, maybe. It was that: “Oh, shit, I’m in too deep. What am I going to do here?” That thing would get stopped, and he would put his leg back up. It was more of a reaction. And then everybody caught on to it. And he started doing it more and more. I don’t know what the benefit is. But maybe it works. I don’t know.
Malaysia. What does the weather forecast look like?
I can pretty much guarantee that it will rain every day here, which is generally what happens. It usually doesn’t happen until 4 or 5 o’clock. Afternoon thunderstorms roll in. And being that they’ve got the race delayed for European time and all that, I think we’re racing an hour later, maybe two. I’m not sure. We might get some thunderstorms. Whatever. Here you never know. Hit or miss. It’s either going to be blazing hot or pissing down rain.
Do you think your bike will be set up better for the long straights of Malaysia coming off tight corners because you have the wheelie problem under control?
It should be better. The wheelie is not a real big problem here. There are a couple of corners. But you’re linking a hairpin to another corner. You’re always linking corners here. Whereas Motegi is more start-stop, down the short chute, turn, down another short chute. And that’s where you’re grabbing a handful, and a lot of wheelies occur. Whereas here you’re usually going from a right to a left or a left to a right. You’re constantly flowing instead of just standing straight up and got the thing wheelie-ing. It’s not really that big of a problem here.