Exclusively by MotoGP Gallery

Friday, March 02, 2012

Edwards and Suter CRT three-seconds from Stoner


Fresh from a promising performance by the Aprilia CRT bike in a private test at Jerez, Colin Edwards gave MotoGP's new privateer class a further boost by slashing the time difference to the top during the second Sepang test.

While the Aprilia teams have skipped the two official pre-season tests to date, Edwards' NGM Mobile Forward Racing (Suter-BMW) team and Avintia Racing (FTR-Kawasaki) have attended both Malaysian visits alongside the twelve manufacturer machines.

Double World Superbike champion Edwards, a twelve-time podium finisher in MotoGP, has the best record of any CRT rider and the 38-year-old Texan's lap times have been watched closely in comparison with the manufacturer bikes.

Edwards had been 5.115sec off the pace of Honda's Casey Stoner and 2.504sec behind the slowest of the manufacturer race riders at the first test, but cut those times down to 3.208sec and 2.072sec during this week's second official test.

To put that into perspective, 2.601sec covered the 17-rider grid during qualifying for last October's race, when all competitors were using manufacturer bikes.

Another sign that Edwards and Suter are far from their ultimate potential was that Edwards improved on his best lap time at the first test by 1.041sec, while those at the front went slower at Sepang II.

Developments for the electronics, chassis and engine occupied Edwards' time over the three days, when he completed a total of 78 laps of the Malaysian Grand Prix circuit.

"To be honest, it was frustrating for two days and finally on the last day, we were working with the throttle connection and we found something. In that respect, it was a good test,” said Edwards.

“In terms of the electronics I don't think we will reach the final stage of development of the electronics until the last race in Valencia: we are going to be working on them the whole time.

“We arrived with a new chassis and also a new spec engine. So from the first test [Jerez, November] to the second test [Sepang I] to the third test [Sepang II], we've had basically had a new bike each time. This time we got what we would consider the 2012 spec.

“We do have a little bit of chatter but it's much better than what it was and I believe we know how to fix it.”

Team technical manager Sergio Verbena added: "We focused on the electronics and chassis. We tested the chassis with varying degrees of stiffness in order to solve the chatter problem and made some improvement in this area, but we have some more work ahead of us.

“In terms of the electronics we made significant progress in some areas - engine braking and traction control - but we still have a lot of work to do with exiting the corners, although we made a modification that allowed Colin to be 1.5 seconds faster.

“We are now 3.2 seconds from Stoner, not bad at all after only six days of testing a circuit as long as Sepang!"

Sepang is one of the few circuits where the official lap record is over two-minutes and also features two long straights.

Avintia Racing riders Yonny Hernandez and Ivan Silva also improved the team's performance with a best lap that was 1.6 seconds faster than at the first Sepang test, but both were still over six seconds from Stoner.

Edwards and Suter will go up against the Aprilia CRT machines - led by Aspar's Randy de Puniet - in the Jerez test from March 23-25, which is the third and final official pre-season outing.

World Superbikes winner MSMW2012