A Conversation With ... Colin Edwards
Note: American MotoGP star Colin Edwards participated in a Red Bull Indianapolis GP teleconference Thursday, June 16 after a stirring third-place finish Sunday, June 12 at the Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone. It was the first podium finish since July 2009 for Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Edwards, 37, from Houston. But the sensational result also came just eight days after Edwards had 13 screws and a titanium plate placed into his collarbone, which was broken in five places during a practice crash Friday, June 3 at the Grand Prix of Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. Edwards also suffered torn rib muscles in the crash.
Edwards will join fellow American MotoGP riders Nicky Hayden and Ben Spies in the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 26-28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
MODERATOR: You’ve had some really epic rides in your career. The second place in the torrential rain two years ago at Donington. The battle with Troy Bayliss in World Superbike at Imola in 2002 and a lot of other ones. But where does the ride last Sunday at Silverstone rank in your career, not only in terms of performance but in terms of memories, especially due to the physical limitations you had.
EDWARDS: I would have to say probably my most memorable race would have to be the second race at Imola in 2002, winning the (World Superbike) championship. Fresh memory, as far as Silverstone is concerned, it’s right up there. Maybe trailing just behind it. But that is definitely two of my achievement highlights, let’s say, that I look at.
MODERATOR: Realistically, I know you said the collarbone felt OK, that Dr. Mir did a great job putting it back together again. The problem was the ribs. But when you were sitting there on the grid, or even after qualifying, did it ever enter your mind, “Holy Christ, I’m going to finish third in this race.”
EDWARDS: No, honestly. The first day I think I was four or five seconds off the pace. Just timid. Just feeling timid. I was on a pain killer that I wasn’t real happy with. I just kind of felt like a space cadet on Friday. So on Saturday I said, no painkillers. Take some ibuprofen and get my head right and then just work with the pain and deal with it. We didn’t do that many laps. If you asked me did I think I was going to finish on the podium that weekend, that probably would have been a resounding no, not a possibility.
MODERATOR: Just a quick change of subject before I open it up to the media panel. I know you’re aware that IMS is right now almost done with repaving the infield section of the road course from Turn 5 through 16. That’s kind of the original section. What’s your reaction to that news, and how will affect the racing, riding and setup challenges for the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 26-28?
EDWARDS: I think it’s fantastic. We had a couple of issues there in the past with some different pavements and a couple of big spots here and there. To know that IMS is making the effort to repave it, that says a lot. I’m excited to get there and try it out.
Q: How is the health at this point?
EDWARDS: Ribs are still hurting like hell, to be honest. The collarbone, I’m not doing anything too strenuous. I did jump in the pool the other day with the kids. And just that moving around just seemed to irritate the ribs a little bit more. I’m just trying to stay loose but not trying to overexert myself. Just trying to take it easy.
Q: So you’re not just magically going to show up at Assen and be perfect, though.
EDWARDS: No. I doubt I’ll be perfect at Assen. The collarbone, the shoulder strength is great. I just don’t really have any core strength at the moment. I pretty much separated the muscle off my right rib cage. That just takes time, takes time to heal. I’m assuming that’s going to be a lot better at Assen. But 100 percent? I don’t know. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Q: As Paul noted, repaving a portion of the Speedway is underway. In your view, was the repave necessary?
EDWARDS: That’s a tricky question. We all have to race on the same thing. So I don’t think it’s, let’s say, unfair for all of us to go out there on whatever the pavement is. Is it going to be nicer? Hell, yeah. Of course. Is it going to be more of a pleasure to go race there? Of course. Setup is going to be a heck of a lot easier. You’re not going to have to set up for a few of the fast corners and then just survive the rest of the track. You can pretty much set up for the whole track once you repave it. That’s one good advantage to it.
Q: Do you have a contract for 2012, and has Yamaha asked you for your input on the 1000?
EDWARDS: I’ve got a contract. My wife still wants to be married in 2012. I’m pretty excited about that (Laughter). As far as racing motorcycles, no, I don’t a contract at the moment. Obviously in talks and negotiations. As far as Yamaha is concerned, it’s just a matter of signing a piece of paper and making sure I’m not riding anything else before I jump on the 1000 and test it.
Q: How much pain were you in in the race, and what were the conditions like from inside the helmet in all that rain?
EDWARDS: Honestly, the race, there was a flash thought that I had probably about two or three laps in. I got a good start, and I ran it deep a couple of places and went through some big puddles and didn’t actually crash. All that really did was kind of gain me more confidence. It looked a little tricky out there. Once I kind of got in there, the pain wasn’t bad. Being in the rain, you’ve got to move a lot slower, a lot more smooth, a lot more just gradually coming into a corner and then the next one. The only pain really comes when the checkered flag drops. You kind of relax and breathe, and it’s probably harder to make that cool-down lap than it was the whole race. As far as inside the helmet, all you’re thinking is just trying to hit the same lines, hit the same 2 inches everywhere, don’t drift offline here or there and hit a puddle and crash with three or four laps to go. I had Nicky kind of breathing down my back, and I had to up my pace a little bit. But I thought, “If I just stay on the same line, I’ll be good.” And it all worked out.
Q: You keep talking about core strength. Racing in the rain requires a lot of core strength, doesn’t it?
EDWARDS: Yeah, it does. I notice it. To the spectator, he might not be able to notice it. But I watched the race over, and I could see my body language on the bike. I just wasn’t moving as much as I normally would, not getting my ass over as far as I normally would. But I just couldn’t, really. I just really didn’t have the strength to. As far as sitting on the bike and twisting the throttle and believing I could do it, then that’s a different thing. Pain, for those who have done any kind of sport, pain pretty much goes out the window when that adrenaline starts flowing and the shield comes down.
You’re back to your status as being the