Colin Edwards maintained his exemplary pre-season form by topping the unofficial time-sheets once again at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar today, with team-mate Valentino Rossi hot on his heels. The Yamaha pairing continue to forge ahead with the development of their 800cc Yamahas and their hard work is reaping rewards, with both riders feeling confident about the impending season.

Edwards best lap of the day, an outstanding time of 1’56.296 set in the morning session, was over a second under the current 990cc lap record. Meanwhile Rossi bettered his time from yesterday with a lap of 1.56.537, despite running into a few set-up problems which he will look to iron-out tomorrow. Both riders will now aim to complete a long-run on the last day before they fly back to Europe for the final ‘dress-rehearsal’ in Jerez ahead of the first race.

COLIN EDWARDS (1st, 1’56.296, 56 Laps)

“Today was impressive! We got our second-choice front tyre from Michelin and it was instantly better than the third-choice one we had yesterday, it gave me a lot more confidence in the front-end. We made some big changes to the setting last night and we’re now in a different realm, close to what Valentino was running yesterday. It’s basically just something that works well on a flat track with no bumps and it felt really good.

We made a small change to the rear shock and then we were just testing tyres for the rest of the day. We tested a series of right-side rubbers and then a series of left-side rubbers, searching for the best combination for the race. The times are great but they’re coming quite easily, I really haven’t pushed out of my comfort zone at all yet. This afternoon was slower because of the wind but at the end of the day, with the last rear tyre, I got my head down for a couple of laps and we still did a 56.4! We’ll do a long run tomorrow and see how it all works out then; hopefully we can stay on top and make it a clean sheet for the test!”

VALENTINO ROSSI (2nd, 1’56.537, 62 Laps)
“So, another fast day for Yamaha and I am happy that we’re one and two again. Actually, today we ran into a few problems which we need to work on, but anyway this is expected when you’re getting faster and faster and it’s much better that we find the problems now than in the race! Again we need to work to improve the stability of the bike under braking and this is a very delicate thing because we don’t want to sacrifice the agility of our bike. We need to find the right balance. We tried some more tyres for Michelin and today we didn’t find anything so great in this area, but we made some decisions about what to try for our long run tomorrow. We’re fast and we know we’re at a good level, but we can’t afford to relax because our rivals are getting closer and I think it’s going to be a very great battle this season. Tomorrow we’ll try to fix the problems we found today, we have some ideas and I am sure we can have a good last day.”

Unofficial Lap Times:

1. COLIN EDWARDS (USA) Yamaha 1’56.296
2. VALENTINO ROSSI (ITA) Yamaha 1’56.537
3. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda 1’56.712
4. Carlos Checa (SPA) Honda 1’56.874
5. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati 1’57.040
6. John Hopkins (USA) Suzuki 1’57.065
7. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Honda 1’57.274
8. Randy de Puniet (FRA) Kawasaki 1’57.288
9. Kenny Roberts (USA) Team KR 1’57.504
10. Marco Melandri (ITA) Honda 1’57.591
11. Nicky Hayden (USA) Honda 1’57.629
12. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Ducati 1’57.698
13. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Suzuki 1’57.770
14. Alex Hoffman (GER) Ducati 1’57.999
15. Alex Barros (BRA) Ducati 1’58.513
16. Makoto Tamada (JPN) Yamaha 1’58.610
17. Toni Elias (SPA) Honda 1’58.990
18. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Yamaha 1’59.138
19. Shinichi Ito (JPN) Bridgestone Test 1’59.617
20. Andrew Pitt (AUS) Ilmor 2’02.453
Qatar Lap Record (990cc): Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2006 – 1’57.305
Qatar Best Lap (990cc): Casey Stoner (Honda) 2006 – 1’55.683


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