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Tornado Warning: Grand Prix Of Qatar

Grand Prix of Qatar Preview

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 start the season April 11 at the Grand Prix of Qatar (4 p.m. ET, April 11, 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.

The final test at Qatar. How did it go?

I think it's a question mark at the moment. It went good the first day. I shouldn't say it went good. It was difficult. It didn't seem as easy last year. Last year I was just accustomed to, I was always in the top three, the top four at the tests. Everything seemed to be going good. Well, looking back, we're doing the same lap times pretty much I did last year. But everybody else was just going faster. It just didn't seem as easy. The front geometry on our bike I changed a little bit from when we raced here. So we might have to go back and try a little bit of something because we know the bike is better than last year. There's no reason we should be doing the same lap time. The tires are pretty much the same as what we had last year, so it should be better.

What kind of feeling does that give you knowing you had a really strong test earlier this winter, but this last one before the race wasn't so hot? Is that a cause for concern?

I don't really think it's a cause for concern. Basically, we've got to figure it out. I think this bike, we've got accustomed to not having to work so much because it works so dang good. You generally get it right at one track, and you go to the next track and generally it works pretty good. Maybe a little tweak here, tweak there. Fork spring, maybe. We didn't really touch the bike that much. We just ride and ride, clean up the track. But yeah, it never really came like we expected. So we're going to have go back to the race and do a couple of little tweaks. It'll be all right, though.

Sounded like you and Ben Spies had similar situations when you crashed in the test. What happened?

Well, it's pretty public knowledge: It's not like we have two tire companies to compete. With Bridgestone, we have, let's say, the soft and the hard tire. The soft tire felt OK. I went out on the hard tire, and I seem to generally like the hard tire a little better. So we ran around the first day, for the most part, on the hard tire and came back again the second day on the hard tire, and we put a soft one on it with a soft rear, just to get some laps on it. I was going to test a couple of tires. And sure enough, went out, I mean, had five laps on the tires. I thought everything was cool. I came out of Turn 1, just kind of straight up and down braking going into Turn 2, and there was no warning whatsoever. It doesn't look like it on TV, but you are hauling the mail coming out of Turn 1, and you're just about to hit the limiter in second. So you're doing about 115, 120 mile an hour. And yeah, gone, bam, instantly. Went straight up and down. So we brought the bike back. It didn't really hurt it that much. I didn't have one bump, scrape, bruise, no abrasions. Nothing even sore, which is really crazy, going down at 120 mile an hour. So brought the bike back, right side of the tire looked perfect on the front, left side of the tire looked brand new. There are only four lefts at Qatar, and probably only two of them generate a little bit of heat in. But whatever the temperature was … I crashed, Ben crashed two laps after me. Nicky crashed, Stoner crashed, Simoncelli crashed. We all crashed within like 30 minutes in exactly the same corner.

Is it a problem to start the race so late local time in Qatar? Is there dew on the track?

Being in the desert, somebody actually had asked me a question while we were there: "Is there any water coming out of the track?" Because quite often that will happen. The water will bubble out of the track somewhere. My only response to that was: "Dude, we're in the middle of the desert. How is that possible?" In reality, there was a lot of dew. You go out to your car after riding all night, and your car is just completely soaked. It was like you just got your car washed. Like in Texas, when you come out in the morning, and you've just got humidity all over your car. It's the same thing. And I was like, "Well, we're in the middle of the desert, but there's so much dew." It's crazy. I don't know what happened. All five crashes within like 30 minutes. It was just a strange ordeal.

What time do you guys start practice, like 11:30 at night?

I don't know what time it starts. Maybe it is.

It's late, though, isn't it?

Yeah, it's late. It's late. The best thing about the start is that I stay on Texas schedule. It's what, eight or nine hours between (Texas and Qatar). So I'm usually waking up at 6, 7 in the morning here; I wake up at 2, 3 in the afternoon there and go out to the track. So I just stay on Texas schedule, and there's no jet lag going to and from.

So it doesn't matter what time the race starts to you? You're cool with the late start time?

Yeah, I'm fine. We've all got to do the same thing, so I'm not going to get into a huff about any of that. We just take it on and do it.

What are your goals for the 2010 season?

I'm really excited. I was excited about last year, but I think this year, even better, because our package seems a lot better than last year. The competitiveness of the rest of the bike, the Yamaha to the Ducatis. And actually our bikes, I think, are a heck of a lot closer to the factory Yamahas than probably they've ever been. They only had to build 24 engines for all four riders, so I think everything is a lot closer than what it has been in the past. But I think we've got a good shot at getting quite a few podiums. I think, between and I both, we should definitely, 100 percent, be the strongest private team. Easy.

Do you think, based on what you guys have done in your careers, and how you've tested in the preseason, that this is the strongest American lineup in MotoGP since you joined the category in 2003?

Yeah. I probably would have to say yes. It's hard to say. I know Ben has got talent. It's unbelievable how much talent the kid's got. He's already picked it up quick. He's probably going to pick up more. Nicky, obviously, winning the title in '06. Definitely got lots of American talent out there, no question.

Who will win the MotoGP World Championship this season?

Win the World Championship? You'll never, ever find me betting against Valentino. That is just something, I cannot bet against him. He's been riding good. He's been riding strong. So I would have to put my money on him.

Even if Casey Stoner stayed healthy?

A couple of years ago, Casey would be faster, which he was at Qatar. But Qatar is a little bit different. But it just seems like Valentino, he's there. He's there, and he's putting in the extra ti

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