As the season kicks of in Qatar, the Monster Yamaha Tech3 pairing of Colin Edwards and newcomer Cal Crutchlow completed a positive first practice session under the floodlights.

In unpredictable and windy conditions, Colin Edwards spent the session concentrating on using the harder compound tyre with an aim to perfecting a setup that will help with turning his M1 machine. Edwards eventually finished 10th on the timesheet, and only half a second away from the top 3.

Speaking after the session, Edwards was obviously happy. “I actually feel really good on the bike but unfortunately I am not quite fast enough at the moment. The number beside my name on the timesheets doesn’t look that good but I’m actually better off than the charts suggest. I’m missing those crucial two or three tenths but I’m confident I can find it. We just need to get the bike to turn just a little bit better and I’m sure if we can work in that area, we’ll find that time I’m losing. But I did my best lap on the hard tyre right at the end, so that gives me a lot of confidence with a couple more changes to the bike that I can be higher up.”

He continued. “I think a lot of the guys in front of me ran the soft tyre, so the race set-up isn’t that far away. I got with Dovizioso and behind Valentino, and our package is pretty strong, but the times tonight prove how competitive it is going to be this season.”

Cal Crutchlow put in an impressive performance to come in 14th on the timesheet considering he is missing the top of his little finger on his left hand. The Brit newcomer is using a modified clutch lever in order to take the stress off his hand. Using the session to get his machine setup, a quick change later in the day helped him lap 0.5s faster.

“That was not easy at all and being honest, the pain from the finger is really bad and it was tough to ride. The crash was only three days ago and when I took the bandage off tonight, I learned there’s some nerve damage where the fingernail was. The pain when the bandage came off was something I can’t describe, so considering how uncomfortable it is, I’m pretty pleased to be where I am and doing some decent times.” he said after the session.

He continued, “I was having trouble using the clutch so I modified the lever, but I was still having some problems shifting, particularly at the first corner when I kept going down to first instead of second. That was costing me time but I couldn’t do anything about it. We made a change to the front-end at the end of the session that we haven’t t ried since Sepang and it felt night and day different. I was much faster and felt much more comfortable because I felt like the front tyre was loaded more in the corner and I could turn better. I’m looking forward to working more with the new front-end set-up tomorrow because I believe we can make another step and hopefully the finger will be a little bit better too.”