American Colin Edwards snatched a surprise pole position on a Yamaha Tech at the China Moto Grand Prix yesterday as he smashed former Italian teammate Valentino Rossi’s Shanghai lap record.
The 34-year-old Texan, still looking for his first win in MotoGP, put in a scorcher of a lap in the waning minutes of qualifying to clock one minute 58.139 to pip Rossi and defending world champion Casey Stoner of Australia.
Rossi on a Fiat Yamaha and Stoner on a Ducati looked unbeatable for much of the hour-long qualifying session until Edwards turned up the heat, tearing up Rossi’s pole record set last year by three-hundredths of a second.
“I did two laps very similar and I thought on the last one, ‘I know there is more time here,’” a smiling Edwards said immediately after qualifying. “So I kind of closed my eyes going into turn one and said, ‘Let’s see what happens.’”
Five-time Moto GP champion Rossi, who had been running top of the time tables all weekend and is looking to end a seven race win drought in Shanghai, was nevertheless pleased with the session, just 0.355 seconds off the pace.
“I’m quite happy about this practice because we were fast from Friday morning, and I’m happy with the settings on my Yamaha,” the flamboyant 29-year-old Italian said.
“When I saw 58.1 [seconds] for Colin I knew for us it was difficult, but the important thing is tomorrow,” Rossi said, adding that he hoped for dry conditions despite having won here in the drenching wet in 2005.
Australia’s Stoner, 22, was delighted to be back in the hunt after struggling in the last two races, despite an opening victory in the Middle East.
“Since the first race in Qatar things have not gone very well for us,” the defending Shanghai title holder said. “It’s been nice to be riding towards the front again.”