Refreshed after a thoroughly deserved summer break, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team made a fast and promising return to MotoGP action at the Brno circuit today.
Boosted by his brilliant second place finish in the British GP at Donington Park, Colin Edwards continued his impressive 2009 form by clocking the fourth quickest time in today's opening practice session.
A best lap of 1.57.741 saw Edwards miss a top three finish by just 0.157s, the 35-year-old helping Yamaha secure three of the top four places as the YZR-M1 machine dominated proceedings.
Edwards is confident his encouraging start will boost his chances of claiming his first top six finish in the Czech Republic in Sunday's 22-lap race, with the American lapping consistently in the top five throughout.
British rider James Toseland, who equalled his career best MotoGP result with an accomplished display in tricky conditions at Donington Park last month, ended the session with the 11th best time. The 28-year-old is confident of big improvements tomorrow as he made significant progress in solving a small front-end issue on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team YZR-M1.
Today's practice also gave the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team its first experience of the new MotoGP engine restrictions. Edwards and Toseland are now only permitted to use five engines in the final seven races as part of a cost-cutting drive to reduce engine mileage.
Colin Edwards Speaks... (4th 1.57 741 - 23 laps)
"I'm happy to be high up and in fourth because I feel in really good shape and we've carried the confidence gained in Donington to this race. I feel really happy with the bike because we played with the setting a little bit just to get some more speed through the chicanes. That's crucial at this track. You need to brake late but then release the brake early and carry the momentum through the chicanes. The balance of the bike is almost there, but I've not felt this good after the first hour for a long time. So I feel like I'm way ahead of the game at the moment. We've got these new engine restrictions to work with now and I don't know if my head is being completely accurate, but I could feel a little bit of a difference. The engine felt smoother but just a little bit flatter at the top. But if there's been any power loss it's not that much, but the character is a little bit different."
James Toseland Speaks... (11th 1.58.764 - 22 laps)
"I had a small problem with the front-end at the start of the session and it took us a while to get that fixed to the point where I felt I could have gone much faster. I had slightly softer springs in the front but it wasn't loading the front tyre enough. It made it really difficult to turn the bike in the long chicanes and being fast in those sections is crucial at this track. We got there in the end but it just took a while. By the end I was running comfortably in the 1.58s, but I'd done nearly 20 laps on the rear tyre and it just started to move a little. I felt comfortable doing that time on old tyres, so I'm sure now we've found a good direction with the front that I can go much quicker tomorrow. The new engine rule hasn't changed too much for me, only that we're only running one bike on Friday and Saturday and then another on race day to keep the mileage down on both."