Following an emotionally rough year in MotoGP, Colin Edwards will begin a new adventure in 2012, the Texan competing on a Claiming Rules Team, or CRT, aboard the NGM Forward Racing BMW-Powered Suter prototype.
This change arrives after the 37-year-old Texan spent nine years in the premier class, riding for Aprilia in 2003, Honda in 2004 and Yamaha from 2005 through 2011.
But his CRT will be much different than his previous prototypes, and Edwards will be the only competitor on the 21-rider grid using the Suter frame and BMW engine. Edwards’ first outing on the Forward Racing CRT was at Jerez back in November, where the times were anything but fast.
But much will be changed on the machine heading into the first official MotoGP testing session of 2012 at Sepang Jan. 31 – Feb. 2, the same track where Edwards injured his shoulder during the fatal wreck that claimed the life of Marco Simoncelli.
In the following interview from MotoGP, Edwards discusses his lastest thoughts on 2012 MotoGP:
Q. How is the shoulder recuperation going?
Colin Edwards (NGM Mobile Forward Racing CRT) says: "It’s good, it’s not 100 percent, but I woke up the other morning and my right shoulder hurt more than my left and that’s the one I didn’t have surgery on! Obviously I tweaked both of them, the right one needed surgery and the left one is a little bit loose, but it’s good, I am out riding here at Boot Camp and training and getting everything in order."
Q. Based on feedback you gave your team at the first test in Jerez, what changes do you expect to see on the Suter-BMW bike at the Sepang test next week?
Colin Edwards says: "The main thing is the electronics. The bike has a lot of potential, but we are so held back right now we can only ride the bike at 65 percent because the electronics are not anything like what I am accustomed to and they aren’t consistent enough. With things like picking up the throttle smoothly and the traction control, it’s almost like having to reinvent the wheel. I’ve never worked with the Bosch system or Magneti Marelli before, but there were a couple of their guys at the test in Jerez taking notes, and from what I know they fulfilled all of my request as far as what we need at this next test."
Q. Did you have any other requests for changes to the bike?
Colin Edwards says: "Anytime we made even a little change to the electronics, it made the bike better as an overall package, even though we never changed any geometry settings. Anytime you make the electronics better you make the bike better. I wasn’t even at a point where I could say, OK the chassis needs this, the swingarm needs that, because we couldn’t get there. Until you can ride the bike at 100 percent, you are going to go in circles if you start changing things. You first need to fix the electronics, that is the main thing."
Q. Sepang is a long and demanding circuit. What would an acceptable gap between a previous good lap time of yours there and the best time on the Forward Racing bike at this test?
Colin Edwards says: "Well first, going back to Sepang is going to be emotional enough. I think it’s important to go there and get back on the track after what happened a few months ago. And I am looking forward to getting back on the track and getting rolling like we normally do. I’m not worried about what kind of gap there will be; I’m more worried about being able to ride the hell out of a motorcycle. If I’m held back by electronics or something, then that is where we need to work. I’m going out there and ride the bike as fast as I possibly can and see what happens. If I had to give a number, I’d be really happy with a time of 2’03 or 2’02. Can we do that? I’ll just have to wait and see."
Q. You are the only rider aboard a Suter and the only rider with a BMW engine in the paddock, does that help or hinder you?
Colin Edwards says: "I don’t mind being the only rider, as long as the work gets done. I don’t think it’s difficult to develop a bike, you focus on what needs to be fixed and you fix it. The key thing is the turnaround time – can we fix it in two weeks or is it going to take three months to go through the pipeline to get something fixed? With BMW and Suter I’m anticipating our turnaround time is going to be a little quicker rather than having to go through the process a factory bike requires. I’m looking forward to being able to rapidly improve this bike."
Q. You said at the announcement of your move to NGM mobile Forward Racing that you believe there will be tracks where the CRT is going to surprise some people. Do you still think that holds true?
Colin Edwards says: "In a perfect world, if I had a motorcycle with 250HP that did everything I wanted it to, yes, I believe CRT bikes would surprise people at some particular tracks. The only question now is: will this 250HP be deliverable? Until we get that sorted and can ride the bike to the limit, then we are going to struggle. When we get to that point, then yes, I do believe the CRT bikes will surprise some people at some of the tracks."
Q. There has been talk that if the gap between the CRT and factory bikes is too large, that penalizations or at least further restrictions could be put to the factories. What do you think about that move if it were to happen?
Colin Edwards says: "This is a tricky situation. At nearly every country around the world you go to racetracks and you have Mazdas racing Ferraris. How does that happen? You restrict the faster guy or lighten up the slower guy. I believe Moto2 has opened a few eyes. You’ve got a group of guys at the front bumping bars and five guys who could win a race which makes it really exciting…as for MotoGP, do I think it’s unfair to restrict the factories? I don’t know the answer to that. We need better and closer racing in MotoGP. How to make that happen is the question."