Since joining the MotoGP paddock in 2003, Colin Edwards has never enjoyed the success he had in World Superbike, where he was a two-time World Champion (2000 and 2002) and two-time runner-up for the championship (1999 and 2001). Colin’s stint on the ill-fated Aprilia Cube project in 2003 wasn’t much of an opportunity, but his return to the Honda fold in 2004 gave him the chance to run consistently in the top ten, with two podium finishes (both 2nds) and a 5th-place finish in championship points.
Colin joined Yamaha’s factory squad for the 2005 season, running alongside Valentino Rossi on the YZR-M1. Colin’s 2005 season was reasonably successful, with the Texan achieving three podiums (a 2nd and two 3rds) and 3 pole positions on his way to placing fourth in the championship points race. Still, his top-five strength was overshadowed by teammate Rossi’s World Championship-winning form, and Rossi was the one in most fan’s minds when they thought of Yamaha’s MotoGP effort.
Colin seemed just as fast in 2006 as he had in ’05, but he was facing a deeper field of talent. Edwards seemed to be on his way to his first-ever MotoGP race win at Assen, leading Nicky Hayden on the final lap before crashing out in the final corner, handing the win to Hayden just 100 metres from the finish line. This was the high point of a lackluster season which saw Colin earn only a single podium finish (3rd) and led to him nearly losing his spot at Yamaha as the team pursued Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden.
Edwards, by his own admission, ‘lucked out’ when Yamaha was unable to sign any of the riders they targeted to replace him, and so chose to give the ‘Texas Tornado’ another shot on the new 800. Having spent two years in Rossi’s shadow at Yamaha, Edwards has publicly commented that he feels 2007 could be his year to show that he truly does possess the talent necessary to achieve his ultimate goal – a MotoGP World Championship. Winning the MotoGP championship would make Edwards the only person ever to win championships in both World Superbike and MotoGP.
Edwards has backed up these powerful claims with a blistering pace during off-season testing – most recently, he trailed Rossi’s test-topping times (after the first two days of a three-day test) by only .019 seconds at this week’s Sepang test, outclassing the rest of the field (though it consisted only of the Kawasakis, the Tech3 Yamahas, and the Ilmor) by almost half a second.
However, this isn’t the first time Edwards has showed impressive speed in off-season testing – but he has yet to show an ability to translate that speed into consistent podium finishes and even race wins. If Edwards can effectively return to the form he showed while contesting the World Superbike Championship from 2000-2002, Rossi might have to watch his back, as he might not be the only Yamaha battling for the lead this season.