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Tornado Warning: Sepang Preseason Test

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. He was fourth fastest overall in a major preseason MotoGP test Feb. 25-26 at the Sepang Circuit near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as riders and teams prepare for the season-opening Grand Prix of Qatar on April 11.

The colorful Edwards will compete in the second 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.

A very good test at Sepang. It seemed like you were quick right out of the box. Your overall impressions of the test?

I'm extremely happy, to be honest. You know, Yamaha, man, what can I say that I haven't already said. They just seem to be so clued in with Bridgestone. They just know what this bike needs to make the Bridgestones work. That's just how smart these guys are, the engineering guys. The bike has not changed a whole lot, but the pieces we needed to change, we have. And it's better.

Do you feel any difference in the engines this year because you only have six for the season? Less grunt because they need to be more durable?

Well, I don't know how they've done it or what they've done, but they've made our engines more reliable, and it feels like I've jumped from a 600 up 1,000 (cc) from last year's bike to this one. It's a hell of a lot faster, and a lot more bottom-end grunt. And that's where we were just getting killed last year, that little grunt off the corner. Dude, honestly, I have never gone and done consistent 2:01's around Malaysia in my life, and this bike just seems like: "You know? No problem. Just do what you've got to do, and the lap times will come." It's fairly easy. I shouldn't say easy; it's never easy. But it's a hell of a lot easier than it was last year, trying to wring its neck for every lap. This engine just seems to help you out a little bit.

What are some of the things you need to tweak on the bike?

I'm going to say we found two- or three-tenths in something, and in another piece we found another two- or three-tenths. The reality of it is, we found half to .6 of a second just on a couple of things. Pushing the same pace, the same tires, the same everything. I think to make the next little gap, we've got some new pieces to try, let's say, how do I say it (laughter) … maybe in the electrical stuff. I think we've got some things that we can play around with and make that a little bit cleaner.

Valentino Rossi was quickest at the test. That's no surprise. But who or what surprised you, good or bad?

I think everybody could look at Pedrosa and say, "What the hell is going on there?" I'd say Nicky (Hayden). Nicky was riding pretty laps on that second day. You know, it's testing. What do you do? Testing and the race outcomes sometimes can be miles apart, and sometimes they can mirror image one another. You don't really know until the (opening) weekend, or until what track you go to. So we'll roll into Qatar, test there, and see how it goes, as well.

In F1, lower-ranked teams sometimes run low tanks or a trick setup to blast out one fast lap during testing to capture publicity and buzz for sponsors. Does that happen in MotoGP?

Not that I know of. I don't think it happens quite like that. Remember, we've only got basically a soft and hard tire. The soft one, obviously, has better grip. But I don't think we really mess around with put three laps of fuel in it and go out and burn around. We really don't go that far with it. When we're out there, it's just a rider's head and his right hand and his ass. It's just a matter of twisting it.

Talk about working with Ben Spies as a teammate this year. I think it's safe to say that the working environment in the Tech 3 garage is a bit better this offseason than it was last year with James Toseland.

Yeah, it's great. It's really kind of cool, obviously, me being at the other end of my career and him being right at the beginning of his European stint. I don't know, man. It's just quite easy for me to talk with him; I think it's easy for him to talk to me. Obviously, we've been friends forever. I find that at the first test we worked a little bit, and this second one, we started talking a lot more. I'm offering him everything I can, as far as trying to help him out, a few words of wisdom. What I see other riders, such as Valentino, doing. What I think kind of makes him (Rossi) a little different from everybody else. Just trying to give him (Spies) a little bit of an education, things he might not know. And it's working out great. He's learning quick; he's riding hard.

You're the teacher, and Ben is the student in this relationship. It's early days, but is there anything you're learning from him. You guys never have raced together.

Honestly, we still haven't ridden together. We've been to Valencia and two Malaysia tests, and I don't think I've seen him on the track once. It's kind of hard whenever you've got six hours out at the track to do what you want, you're only going to go out and do three, four, five laps at a time and come in. It's just a matter of hooking up. This last test, I don't think I saw one person on the track. And we had what, 17, 18 guys out there? It's kind of weird, but it's just the way it falls.

How has your offseason been? It's been a bit busy, I take it, with the addition of your new daughter.

Yeah, man, it's so busy. I'll tell you what: We moved into the new house, putting hardware on and cleaning this stuff and moving that and doing this, I think it kind of turned me into a workaholic. I'm getting up every morning like: "I've gotta do this, gotta do that. What do I have to do?" Hell, I can remember offseasons where I would come home and sit out by the pool and relax. Priorities change a little bit, and we've got the new little one. She was born two months ago. We've been busy. A little sleepless nights at times, but we've been busy. 

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