Also joining Nicky Hayden at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway teleconference was the venerable Colin Edwards, who took some time off from scoping and loading his new 338 Edge rifle to talk to Asphalt & Rubber and a select group of other journalists about the MotoGP season and the upcoming Indianapolis round. By his own admission, Edwards is not having as good of a season this year in MotoGP as he would like, with many in the paddock wondering if 2011 is the Texas Tornado’s last year in MotoGP. Saying that he wasn’t ready to retire, Edwards hinted that some announcements were coming down the line, though probably not in time for the Indianapolis GP.
“Will we make any kind of announcement at Indy? Probably not. Misano, maybe, I don’t know,” mused Edwards. “We’ve got a few pieces of the puzzle laying around. We’ve just got to put those pieces together. Probably the worst thing is that I’m not ready to retire. That would make it easy for everybody. But at the moment, I’m still enjoying it. I’m still having a good time, and I’m still motivated. Until that goes away, I’m going to ride motorcycles.” Read the rest of the teleconference transcript after the jump.
MODERATOR: Colin, what’s happening?
COLIN EDWARDS: Oh, man. Just got a new gun. Putting a scope on it, that kind of stuff. What we do in Texas down here.
MODERATOR: What kind of weapon did you add to the arsenal?
EDWARDS: It’s a 338 Edge. That’s about a 2,000-yard gun if you really want to bring some meat home, I guess.
MODERATOR: How do you prepare differently for a race in America, especially at Indy? Is there any sort of mental preparation or things you do different than any other round of the championship?
EDWARDS: Man, I’m probably going to say the same pretty much as Nicky said. There’s definitely a bit more pressure, and if it’s even possible to ride harder, which we’re already doing, then, yeah. I tend to maybe be a little more carefree and maybe take a little more risk than you would because it’s at home, and hopefully you get away with that.
MODERATOR: Talk about your season this far. Where are you at in terms of where you thought you’d be on the grid and the team’s development has been this season?
EDWARDS: oh, man, sitting ninth in the points. I don’t think anybody can ever be happy about that. But at the end of the day, we had a bike quit on us sitting in a podium position in Jerez. There’s 16 points down the drain. Broke a collarbone, didn’t race at Barcelona, so there’s a few points down the drain. The one podium, obviously, being the highlight, at Silverstone. Apart from that, it’s tough. It’s just tough this year. You’ve got so many factory Hondas out there and Yamahas, and everybody’s riding good. You get in the top five or the top six, and it feels like you’ve done something. In the past, it was shoot for the podium. Maybe you just have to back that down a little bit.
Q: What in the world is going on with you and Yamaha for next year?
EDWARDS: We got way too many people listening right now. At the moment, I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t think they know. Nobody knows exactly what’s going on. I have a little bit of an inclination now. I cannot say anything right now, no. Will we make any kind of announcement at Indy? Probably not. Misano, maybe, I don’t know. We’ve got a few pieces of the puzzle laying around. We’ve just got to put those pieces together.
Q: I find it hard to believe you won’t be riding next year. I think you’ll be riding somewhere. Am I off-base?
EDWARDS: No, you’re not off-base. Probably the worst thing is that I’m not ready to retire. That would make it easy for everybody. But at the moment, I’m still enjoying it. I’m still having a good time, and I’m still motivated. Until that goes away, I’m going to ride motorcycles.
Q: You’re renowned as a great development rider. These new CRT teams, claiming rule teams, it seems like a guy like you could do possibly quite amazing things over there. Your thoughts?
EDWARDS: I agree with you 100 percent. Right now I’m working on developing a new load for this new rifle I got. I’m going to stick with that development until somebody wants me to go ride motorcycles.
Q: I wanted to get your view on the tire allocation change by Bridgestone starting at Brno and for the rest of the season.
EDWARDS: You look at Assen, you look at Germany, there were just a couple of places where we were just catapulting the guys left and right. It’s basically just for safety. Just for safety, you have a little bit more in the barrel if you’ve got to reach down if the weather is cold, or whichever it might be, you’re actually going to have something that’s going to be halfway safe. It was a good decision. A little bit late, maybe. But at the end of the day, at least we have that option if the weather is kind of weird, we can run seomthing a bit softer.
Q: Otherwise no real change, though?
EDWARDS: No, I wouldn’t really say, “Wow, we’ve got more tires!” No, it wasn’t like that. We still do our work, do what we’ve got to do, run what we’ve got to run. If we’re ever in any bind, we can pull out the different allocation.
Q: Do you expect different tires for the 1000s or similar to what you have now?
EDWARDS: Yeah, we’ve been developing something a bit different. I don’t know what they want you to know or not know, but it’s basically on the safety side. You’ve got a little bit more feel, exit out of the pit. That’s where we’ve all been lacking a little bit. Hence the high sides to the Moon on cold tires. It’s got a little bit more feel. I like the tire a lot better. But it’s not that much different, to be honest with you. Just working on that feel for the first couple of laps.
Q: Maybe a broader temperature spread?
EDWARDS: It could be that. It could be something with construction. It could be something with compound. I don’t know. Something around there.
Q: I hate to introduce a downer here, but three riders suffered fatal injuries within an eight-day stretch starting here a year ago, Jesse Phibbs at the Indiana Fairgrounds, Peter Lenz out at the Speedway and Shoya Tomizawa in Italy. Did you know any of those guys? Were you friendlhy with any of those guys?
EDWARDS: Oh, yeah, sure. Peter was my protégé, if I can say that. I used to keep in contact with him and his dad and had a good relationship. He come to Laguna and hung out when he had the big halo around his leg when he broke his leg, and we shoved him around the pit and put him on the bike. We had a pretty good relationship. Last year was hard. When we found out he got killed, it was like, “Holy moly, man.” That’s a little too close to home. Being that he was so young, it was even more heartbreaking. Like you said, Tomizawa the next week. Both were freak deals, freak accidents. We know the risks, and you’ve just got to keep that in the back of your head.
Q: Was Peter really a good kid, a neat kid with a great future?
EDWARDS: Hell, absolutely. Great kid. Just the nicest kid in the world. 100 percent. Good family, good structure, good manners. Just being around him, you’d just smile because he was funny, as well. He was a great kid, and he’s going to be missed by everybody. And definitely had lots of talent. He was going places.
Q: How about Shoya? Another bright face with a quick smile?
EDWARDS: Um-hm. I didn’t know him too well. The “hi, how are you?” but nothing really any closer than that. I know what I felt when Peter had his accident, and I know there were a lot of people that felt the same way when Tomizawa had his. It definitely hits home at times.
Q: Ever think of doing a travelling Boot Camp, or is Texas the home for the boot camp?
EDWARDS: The Texas Tornado Boot Camp at the moment, this is where we all learned. We all learned our skills doing just this. Kenny, Kenny Sr., Kenny Jr., Valentino, Jorge. We all do this to really ingrain our fundamentals and get our skill level up. As far as a travelling Tornado, I don’t know. We’ve got something to build on. Our first thought was come up with a road-racing school once we build this and get it to where we want and get a little bit of the road courses in. We’ve got room to expand. The first year of it going, it’s going fantastic. So I’m looking forward to the future.
Q: Simoncelli got on the box last race. Does that change your bet with Ben?
EDWARDS: I think we got rid of that bet. It was just turning into way too many shots. We hadn’t been keeping up with it, and it just turned into a lost cause after a few races this year. Obviously, he crashed and crashed and had a few bad ones. Now, it’s tough. He’s tough. We did away with that bet, I think.
Q: Those videos you’ve been doing with Yamaha, you’ve showed some tremendous talent as an actor. Have you ever considered acting as a career post-racing?
EDWARDS: Oh, man, if you think riding motorcycles is hard, try being an actor. That’s not an easy business to get into, either. I’ve had the same comment. Guys have said, “You’ve got the ability to do this or do that.” If somebody comes knocking on my door and wants me to come be in their movie, fantastic. I’m all down with it. But it’s nothing that I’m going to move to Hollywood and going to pursue day in and day out, but there might be some possibilities down the road.
Q: Is there more development being done on the racing suits, leathers that might offer more protection? Air bag deployment, and such. Do you think that development will continue?
EDWARDS: I wish I could answer that question for you. I’ve been with SPIDI with since I think ’97 or ’98, something like that, I’ve never tested the air bag system. I know they have a road-going suit or some jackets that have it. I’ve never tested it or never been offered to test it. My suits are very much the same as they were, obviously a little bit here and there, the protection is getting a little bit better, but no major strides on my side. I think there is something there, but I think you have to ask somebody who wears one of those suits.
Q: You’ve never talked about your fears, at least with me. Can you talk about some of the things that scare you? Do you not like heights, snakes, spiders? What is it?
EDWARDS: My wife gives me shit about this all the time: I don’t like ants. For some reason, ants freak me out. It’s probably one of my biggest fears. As a kid growing up in Texas and who’s the tough boy on the block, you put your hand in the ant bed and see how many bites before you start freaking out. Just stupid games you play as a kid. And I think since then, I don’t know, man, I don’t really go good with them, especially if you look down and your whole leg is covered in them even though they don’t hurt that bad.
Q: No, really, what scares you?
EDWARDS: Other than that, no real fears, to be honest with you. I like to have my feet on the ground. I’m not a big flier or helicopter-type guy. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I don’t choose to go out and get my pilot’s license or go fly a helicopter. I’m not really down with any of that.
Q: I know Nicky has Indy as his home race. For a long time, you’ve had Laguna. Once Austin rolls around, are you going to change allegiances?
EDWARDS: Well, of course. That’s only a couple hours down the road. At the end of the day, Laguna and Indy are both the home races for us. Can I get in my car and come on over? No, I’m still going to have to fly. But at the end of the day, it’s roughly the same time zone and same food and folks, and we all speak the same language. As far as Austin, I’ll be able to jump in my truck and haul butt. I’m ready for that.
Q: Nicky has had the opportunity the last couple of years to get a first look at the track, on a road bike. Do you ever wonder if he’s getting any advantage?
EDWARDS: No. You’d have to ride one of our bikes to really understand that question. There are no similarities. Maybe riding position, but everything else is completely different. If it was a brand-new track, you show up at a brand-new track, it’s hard to learn it. You need to go to sleep. It’s like snowboarding. You go to sleep, you wake up the next morning, and then it all kind of clicks. You can’t do too much the first day. But, yeah, if you had a road bike, that might be a little, small advantage to learn the circuit.
Q: How are you doing on engines at this stage of the season?
EDWARDS: I think I’m doing pretty good; I don’t think I’ve blown any of them. We have our engines we run in practice and qualifying, and we’ve got our engines that we’ll throw in Saturday night and kind of keep them fresh as race engines. I thought I blew one up at Jerez, but that was just a fuel pump issue. I think I still got them all in the barn.
Q: No worries about starting from pit road or anything like that?
EDWARDS: No. I think there are a couple of them out there that are struggling, but we’re not one of them.
Q: Indy is unique in that it’s the only combination oval-road course in MotoGP. Is there any change in the way you approach a track like this, either on your bike or in your setup?
EDWARDS: No, not really. For that matter, you could say Sachsenring. Sachsenring, that whole track you could fit that inside the oval that we race on in Indy. A little more elevation to it. But you don’t really do anything different. You know from years past what suspension settings might be, what springs you might use and especially what tires are going to work. Well, this year, if it’s anything like Mugello, they repaved it and we had so much grip. It was so much fun to ride on. And no bumps. That’s what I’m looking forward and hoping that Indy’s about. Smooth as a pool table and lots of grip. That’ll change the equation a little bit, but we kind of generally know a rough setting anyways.
Q: Because of the repaving, does that change some of the shifting or the gears you’re going to be in some of the corners?
EDWARDS: Our shift patterns probably are going to be the same. The main thing is stroke and springs. Obviously, if we have the same tires as last year, if they weren’t as good or better, how much load we’re able to carry. Then you’ve just got to basically back up from there and start adjusting spring rates and preload and chassis and getting the thing to work. Generally when you get new pavement, you get a lot more traction. So it’s more of a high-load racetrack that we’re just going to have to compensate with springs.
Q: In Turn 16, are you guys in first gear? Do you ever get into first gear?
EDWARDS: That’s a good question. I think that last corner might be first gear. Oh, man, I don’t know. I need my data guy here to show me the sheet. I don’t know. I just keep grabbing gears, and I go down a couple when I know I need to.
Source: Indianapolis Motor Speedway; Photo: © 2011 Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved