EDWARDS MAKE PODIUM RETURN IN GRUELLING SHANGHAI AFFAIR

Camel Yamaha Team rider Colin Edwards charged from the front row of the grid to the podium today with a determined performance in the Grand Prix of China. Whilst his team-mate Valentino Rossi was denied the chance to challenge for a top three spot after pulling in with a tyre problem on the sixteenth lap, Edwards reaped the rewards of a blistering start to the race, when he snatched the hole-shot and led the field over the opening stages.
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In sunny and warm conditions Edwards set a scorching pace that only a handful of riders were able to follow, but finally succumbed to pressure from Dani Pedrosa (Honda) on lap ten, the young Spaniard forcing his way past and taking his team-mate Nicky Hayden along for company. Rossi, meanwhile, had been making positive progress through the field, working his way up from thirteenth on the grid to fifth place in the race before bad luck struck once again.

The Italian began to feel that there was something wrong with his bike and initially thought it was being caused by the rear tyre. After a swift change he attempted to rejoin the race, only to return to the pits next time around after realising the problem was coming from the front tyre. Edwards consolidated third place for his first podium appearance of the season as Pedrosa held off the challenge of Hayden to clinch his maiden MotoGP win.

 

Colin Edwards (3rd; + 14.634)
“I got a really good start and just decided to go as fast as I could over the opening laps. I was close to losing control on a couple of occasions but I decided that I’d rather crash out of the lead today than miss my chance of finishing on the podium, which meant I just couldn’t back off. I had some chatter and I could only push the bike so hard; if I went any faster than 2’00.7 then the chatter forced me to slow down, so I didn’t have much choice but to hang in there! The freight train came past with Dani and Nicky but I couldn’t hang on to the back, they were both just too fast. We’ve had some problems this weekend and I didn’t expect to be on the podium but I can’t thank my team, Yamaha and Michelin enough for the way they worked to put me in a competitive position. I think I scored my first podium in round four last season too, so hopefully this can be a sign to kick on from here.”

Valentino Rossi (DNF)
“I didn’t get a bad start to the race and I passed a lot of riders but I had a battle with Marco Melandri that cost me some time. Some of his moves were quite strong, which I could understand if we were fighting for the win on the last lap but not for eighth place at that stage of the race. Anyway, the bike felt good but just as I got my pace to 2’00.1 it suddenly started to feel wrong and I thought I had a problem with the rear tyre. I came in to change it but as I went back out I realised it was actually the front tyre, so that was the end of the race for me. I’m really disappointed because I felt in the race that I had the pace to at least pass Hopkins and Edwards, so as far as I am concerned we have lost 16 points and a podium, which would have been a good result after the problems we’ve had this weekend. We’ve lost some ground in the championship so I am feeling very disappointed right now but there is a long way to go yet.”

Davide Brivio – Camel Yamaha Team Director
“First of all my congratulations to Colin and all his crew – they have kept going after a difficult start to the season and today they got their reward. Third place is good and I hope it can be the start of much better things from him for the rest of the season. Valentino had a bad day, and even if we had changed the front tyre the first time he came in, it would have taken too long and the race would have already been lost. He has been very unlucky this year – firstly with the incident in the first corner at Jerez and now this time with the tyre. It’s always upsetting when your results are decided by things that are out of your control but there is nothing he can do about it, only look forward to making up for lost ground over an important run of races in the next few weeks.”

Step forward in tyre consistency for Tech 3 Yamaha Team

Some may say that finishing 14th and 17th in the Polini Grand Prix of China is an unacceptable result, but the Tech 3 Yamaha Team believes that after a weather effected weekend, positive steps have been made in the consistency of the Dunlop tyres, and are confident that now that has been attained, it will lead to further progression in the remaining races of 2006.

By the completion of the today’s race, Carlos Checa and James Ellison finished closer to many teams than in any of the season’s previous races. Now that the question of the durability of Dunlop tyres has been answered, the next item on the team’s agenda is to increase the performance and believe that the next level will be possible in the near future.

Carlos Checa (14th, Fastest lap 2’02.610)

“We have been working hard through the weekend and we knew that it was going to be difficult but our mission has been to reduce the difference to the large second group of bikes. We have come far in making the tyres last the distance but now our objective is to ensure that we improve our level of performance to lower our lap times over the entire distance. We haven’t got the speed in the middle of the turn, especially in acceleration at the moment, but now that the tyres are lasting we need to increase the performance so we can go faster for longer and not be so far off in lap times. What Dunlop has been able to do in these four races makes me confident that they will be able to improve in the areas we need, to bring the lap times down and get even closer to those that are in front. I don’t want to be negative but when the lap times are not there, everyone should be concerned. I knew that this was the situation in Dunlop when I came here so it is no surprise. I must carry on and fight against this situation and improve. We must not give up, – completely the opposite – we must work harder, more harder than the others if we want to catch them. I think we can improve one or two steps. The top level will be difficult if we compare with the other tyre rivals but we have to keep trying”.

James Ellison (17th, Fastest lap 2’03.139)

“We’re improving the durability of the tyres, but then the side grip dropped away and at a place like China where you’re on the side of the tyre for a long period this is going to cost you a lot. To compensate for this I couldn’t run the lines I wanted to, so I had to get over the front more. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve made a big step with consistency but towards the end of the race I couldn’t carry the corner speed I wanted. Obviously we still have work to do with the bike and the tyres to get the whole package working. The Dunlop guys have got a heap of new stuff coming to Le Mans and the test afterwards. They have been working very hard to improve the situation so we’ll see what happens”.

 

Herve Poncharal – Tech3 Yamaha Team Director
“I am reasonably happy, although you can’t jump up and down when you are finishing 14th and 17th, but I think that is the best race of the season for us so far. There was no major drop off in the lap times, the pace wasn’t good enough to be in front but we were quite close to Kenny (Roberts Jr) with a factory engine on Michelin’s and not far from de Puniet. We are happy with race distance durability but now we have to upgrade the performance because I think we need to be a second a lap quicker to be with the group we are looking at. “We have made some quite big improvements since the start of the project. There are another 13 races to go; Carlos working the way he is working, giving good feedback; James being closer than where he has been before; we have a two-days test after the French Grand Prix next week: hopefully Dunlop will continue the progression we are seeing. We go out of China with the feeling we have done quite a good Grand Prix”. “We are seeing progress, everyone is working so hard and we must not stop. We must continue pushing and pushing.”

 

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