Colin Edwards at Barcelona
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, July 18 at the Grand Prix of Germany (8 a.m. ET, July 18, SPEED).
The colorful Edwards will compete 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.
Barcelona seems like another weekend in which you rode your butt off, but the results didn’t show how well you rode. Correct?
Barcelona is one of the weekends where … Golly, I went out there and we played around with the bike, tried to get it right, tried to get it right. I think I finished sixth there last year. So we’ve got the same bike, basically, with a slower engine. We’ve been struggling to get this thing set up and feeling heavy. So we thought, “Well, let’s have one bike similar to Assen and one bike like we had last year. Last year was the best result we had in Barcelona, so let’s run it. And we did, and I pretty much matched everything I did last year but went faster by like a tenth, two-tenths each session. Everything felt the same. Same tires, same bike, same leathers, same everything, same rider, just a year old. So everything was basically the same as last year. Only problem was, that wasn’t good enough. All the guys running out there up front were better. Just going faster. We did a (1:) 43.1 last year in qualifying. I did 43.0 this year. I came in and I had one tire left, but I was: “I can’t go any faster. I know I can’t. I hit everything I wanted to hit. I can’t go any faster.” And I didn’t. Not trying to defeat myself, but at the same time, Ben, I think had 43.0, the same time as I did, and he was right behind me. And then he went out and put a blinder in, and was, I don’t know, 2 ½-tenths or three-tenths quicker. And that put him fifth instead of 11th or 10th, anyways. I came in, I was all pissed off. I threw my helmet, smashed it. I haven’t done that in years, man. I think ’99 was the last time I threw a helmet. Getting older and wiser. But hell, sometimes you’ve got to let some tension out. I was like: “Man, sorry, guys. That was immature of me.” And Herve was like: “No. I like to see that, your aggression. Pissed off.” The short story: It wasn’t working that good. It was working exactly the same as it did last year, just not good enough. So we made a decision Saturday night to kind of let’s keep one bike what we know and let’s pretty much kind of go what Valentino had last year. It’s completely different front geometry than what I was running at the time. Move the front wheel back a little bit, get a little more weight on the front. A little bit stiffer in the rear spring. A pretty big change, considering. Went out in the warm-up and we pulled the tire off one bike and put it on that one, and I was two-, maybe three-tenths quicker consistently. I only got four laps on each bike. But each lap, I was faster on the new setup, on Valentino’s setup from last year. So we thought, “Let’s run that.” Not having any time on it, not knowing what’s going to happen, we only did four laps on it. It felt great. We started the race, everything was going pretty good. And once everything got hot and heated up, and as soon as I caught up to Ben, then it just started plowing. The front just started rolling over. Instead of turning, it was just going straight. I was just sitting on my knee, I thought, “Well, I can do this for another lap and a half and throw it in the gravel.” But at the end of the day, I’m in frickin’ ninth and 10th, anyways. I’m risking for what? That’s kind of my problem right now. I know that’s my problem. The issue I’m having is that I don’t mind putting my nuts on the chopping block if I’ve got a podium, a top five or we got a good showing. But when you’ve got to do that to finish ninth, I’m out. To me, that’s just bullsh*t.
Yeah, especially when you’ve been doing it this long.
I’ve been doing it this long. And you know, part of thing is, too, I’m not trying to bag on anybody, but De Puniet, I know what level he is. I know what kind of rider he is. A couple of guys, not saying anything bad about Bautista or Capirossi, either, but they’ve been struggling all year. But when you can those guys are just up there and going and De Puniet is qualifying on the front row, this is just a big joke. It’s just a joke.
How do you keep your spirits up? How do you show up at Sachsenring, which I know isn’t one of your favorite tracks at all, and think it’s going to be better?
I’m trying to figure that one out right now. (Laughter). I’m trying to figure out that dilemma right now. I’ve had some long conversations with Mr. Ben Spies. He’s riding incredible. He is riding really good. He’s riding awesome. But at the same time, he has to. In conversations we’ve had, he’s like, “I never … ” He was so pissed off. I think he was more pissed off on the weekend than I was, honestly, because he knew that he rode his ass off. Every lap was a qualifying lap, and he’s still 21 seconds behind the lead. That doesn’t settle well when you’re putting that much effort in. And that’s really the problem he was pissed off about. But anyways, I don’t know what we do. We just keep on moving. Hopefully Yamaha will bring something for us.
It seemed like you could lose two-tenths last year and not drop six or seven spots. What has made the grid so tight this year?
Honda, really. Honda has just been doling out new sh*t to everybody. Swingarms and chassis, everybody’s got good engines. That’s really quite not like Honda whatsoever the last few years, but obviously I think they’ve probably been taking note of what Yamaha has been doing over the last few years. The satellite bike seems like they’ve probably been the best satellite bike. The Yamaha. And Honda, probably they put a little more effort this year in supplying all these guys with some good stuff.
Speaking of Honda, it probably wasn’t news to you when Casey Stoner signed with them for 2011. What are your thoughts on that move, possibly as a third factory bike?
Well, I think the writing was on the wall when Livio Suppo went over there. I know Livio always has liked Casey. I don’t know if that’s the sole reason for him going over there. But it will be interesting. I’m really excited about next year, honestly. We still got the rest of this year to go, but looking like Valentino’s going to Ducati and Casey over to Honda. There’s been a little bit of a shakeup going on. It’s what the sport needs.
Hell, yeah. You look at everybody going nuts over LeBron James going to Miami, and I put on our Facebook page this morning that you’ve got the top four riders in MotoGP as free agents this year.
Absolutely. I think it will be cool. I don’t know if I’ll be involved with it. But it’s definitely going to be a good year for the shakeup.
Has this tough run of form this year caused you to think about next year differently than maybe you would have two months ago?
Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. It seemed like there I thought we were just having a bad run of races, and it would all turn around and everything was going to be cool. I know. You can ask my teammate. He knows, as well. I’m riding, he’s riding, we’re riding the best we’ve ever ridden. I’m riding the best I’ve ever ridden in my life. I feel so good, so confident on the bike. But God, I’m taking so much more risks than I normally. I’m not a risk kind of … I’m a calculated guy, you know? I get the bike set up. I get it going good. I ride it to the limit to where I know I’m going to put in the best result I can, and if that’s second, third, fifth, 10th, whatever it is, 99 percent of the time I’m happy with it because I know I’ve rode my ass off. Problem is now, yeah, the results aren’t showing how hard you’re riding, and that’s really the deal.
Speaking of risk, Valentino is coming back at Sachsenring. That’s 40-something days after he snapped his leg in half. Don’t you think that’s kind of a risk? Why would you do that?
Well, I know why. Let’s just pretend, hypothetically. OK, I’m going to put it to you this way: Let’s pretend, hypothetically, that hypothetically in his contract there might be a clause that if you miss a race or two or three in a row, then your salary might hypothetically get cut in half or a quarter. You know what I’m saying?
Hypothetically, of course.
Hypothetically, of course. So I’m assuming, hypothetically, that he probably has a clause in his contract that if he misses more than X amount of races in a row, then his pay might be chopped up. Something like that. I’m assuming, hypothetically. (Laughter). And honestly, I don’t know what’s he’s making, but let’s just pretend he’s making $9 million. You know, half a million dollars a race, you start chopping that up, and that’s a bunch of money that’s going out the window.
Did you see the last-lap accident in the Moto2 race between Morales and Kenny Noyes at Barcelona?
Oh, crap, yeah, I saw it. Geez, I was sitting there watching it live. Woof. This is experience, too, and I’m not saying anything bad about him, anyone or whatever, as well, but he’s (Morales) not going to make that pass. It’s impossible. The finish line is right there; you’re on a 600. You’re just not going to make the pass. But the guy’s got a do-or-die spirit, and he was convinced that he was going to make the pass. But it didn’t work out.
Wild-card rider, too. He’s trying to put on a good show in front of the home fans.
Yeah, absolutely. He took a lot of risks, and it didn’t work out. But I’m glad the guy’s OK. It looked gnarly at the time.