Colin Edwards and Ben Spies both put in good performances in the Free Practice session at Mugello this afternoon.
Edwards took 4th position on the timesheets, while Spies took 6th – another impressive feat on yet another track that Spies is encountering for the first time.
Tech-3 Yamaha Practice Report and Interview with Colin Edwards and Ben Spies below:
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team duo Colin Edwards and Ben Spies were immediately on the pace in Mugello today as Yamaha made a flying start to the Italian MotoGP weekend.
Edwards made a welcome return to form after a difficult opening to the 2010 season and a range of set-up changes on his YZR-M1 machine reaped immediate reward for the Texan.
Reverting back to the same set-up he used to finish sixth in the 2009 Italian MotoGP, the confidence Edwards has lacked with the front-end of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine in the early part of the campaign instantly returned.
Edwards was a permanent fixture in the top six before he surged into the top three shortly before the halfway stage. He briefly dropped out of the leading trio before a lap of 1.50.772 moved him behind dominant Yamaha duo Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo back into third spot in the closing stages.
Only a late attack from circuit specialist Loris Capirossi prevented Edwards from helping Yamaha claim a stunning 1-2-3 start to the fourth round of the world championship.
The spectacular Mugello circuit is one of the most technically challenging and physically demanding on the MotoGP calendar. But Spies once again exhibited his talent for learning tracks at a remarkably fast rate to clock the sixth quickest time and finish just over 0.2s behind Edwards.
Spies is still suffering slight discomfort from left ankle ligament damage he suffered in a practice crash in Le Mans. But the 25-year-old quickly got to grips with Mugello’s hard braking points, high-speed corners and undulation to finish with a best time of 1.51.004.
Spies is confident with more time to work on the set-up of his YZR-M1 machine he’ll be able to fight for a leading position in Sunday’s 23-lap race.
Colin Edwards 4th 1.50.772 – 21 laps
“I’m really happy with today because the first three races have not been easy at all. Nothing had worked at all so far this season, so basically I completely changed the set-up of the bike today. I just told my team to change the set-up so it was completely the same as Mugello last year when I had my best result at this track. We changed riding position and got my weight moved forward because I’ve been having a problem keeping weight on the front this season. Now it just feels so natural and the bike does exactly what I want it to do. When I want the bike to do something it actually does it instead of me waiting and wondering why it didn’t work. Now it just turns and it feels like I’m spending much less time on the side of the tyre. I turn in now really quickly and don’t run wide or have to work hard to get the bike round the corner. I want to say a big thanks to Tech 3 and Yamaha because it feels like my bike again and I’m riding with much more confidence.”
Ben Spies 6th 1.51.004 – 25 laps
“This track is definitely a more difficult place to learn but it is a super fun track. There are a couple of corners that are really difficult to learn and it can take a while to get into a rhythm. But coming here on the back of a couple of bad results and being immediately this fast on such a technically challenging track is really good for me. It doesn’t feel like I should have been sixth and I guess that is a good sign. I thought I was doing fine so to see I was sixth, I was blown away with that because I thought I’d be about tenth or just outside the top ten. I’m still having a bit of trouble with the ankle I hurt in the practice crash in Le Mans. There’s quite a bit of ligament damage but the only time I really feel it is when I’m trying to tuck in tight on the straight. It’s not a major injury but it will take a few weeks to fully recover. On the bike it hurts but it’s not slowing me down. I’ll analyse the data tonight because as always when I’m starting fresh on a new track, there is more time to come from my riding and the bike. But to be sixth on my first day at such a difficult track is a good lift for my confidence.”
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