The 2012 MotoGP season will see a seismic change, with much of the field, including Edwards, moving to Claiming Rule Team (CRT) machines; prototype frames with heavily modified production engines.
For 2012, Colin Edwards will...
For 2012, Colin Edwards will be one of the established MotoGP stars riding for a CRT (Claiming Rule Team) running a production-based engine (BMW) in a prototype chassis (Suter).
CE: It’s just time for a change; it’s just getting stale. You bring a production engine, do whatever you want to it, put it in a prototype chassis. They see that the formula works in Moto2, so they want to build that same mold around Moto1, competitive racing with five or six guys that can win a race. The problem is they’re never going to kick the factories out, which, if they would, it would be great; the racing would be that much better. But factories are kind of dictating a little bit what’s going on. They always have. And until that moment that the factories finally subside and say, ‘You know what, we’re not going to build any factory bikes,’ it’s all going to be CRT rules, but somebody has to start it.
FS: And the quickest way to get there is for the money other than the manufacturers. I mean, let’s face it, that’s always the driving force, the fact that they are the ones that have the money to be able to build the bikes. But if they could get the privateer teams to build the chassis and get sponsorship and get where it’s reasonably priced to be alright, that’s when it’s really going to take off. Because then you’ll have people that’ll see it working and then the other teams can…
CE: Well, at the end of the day, it’s kind of what he’s saying. Right now we pay €2.2-2.3 million (about $3-3.13 million) per rider just to lease a prototype Yamaha. Honda, I think is a little more expensive. But the Yamaha we lease is not going to be a factory Yamaha. So you spend that amount of money to finish fourth, fifth, sixth, at best…or third at Silverstone, whatever (where Edwards finished on the podium with a broken collarbone).
Both Spencer and Edwards spent years testing and developing tires for Michelin, when there was open competition among tire companies and when tires were built for specific motorcycles on specific tracks in specific conditions. Nowadays, motorcycles have to be built around the control tires.
A youthful Freddie Spencer...
A youthful Freddie Spencer chats with his arch-rival Kenny Roberts during their trademark 1983 season, when Spencer beat Roberts to become the then-youngest ever World 500cc Grand Prix champion at 18 years of age.
CE: [This year] we can do more or less what we want, but at the end of the day we don’t have a bike that we’re building tires around—we have tires that we’re building a bike around, so it’s completely different. Now we have tires that are hard as rocks. But we have to build a bike around them. So it’s a lot more work. But it takes a lot of the guesswork out. You build a chassis and instead of getting lucky, it’s kinda that way. You build something that works with that tire or you’re in the range. And if you’re not in the range, it’s a lot of work to get it in that range to work for those tires.
FS: When I was doing tire development, developing the radials initially, I developed them for myself but also for my teammates, and stuff like that.
CE: Don’t you hate it when you develop a tire that your teammate gets?
FS: I can tell you this much...one of the tires that didn’t work very well, I thought would work well on the Yamaha. The first race of the year in Kyalami, Eddie (Lawson) beat me.
CE: I did the same s**t. I don’t know. Somebody else uses it and kicks your ass, you’re like, ‘ahhh, crap.’
FS: So that happens. It just shows that Colin and I are really nice guys.
Edwards and Spencer opened up about the massive differences between the factory-level machines and the satellite bikes.
“I would run it in until the...
“I would run it in until the front end would start to tuck and then time going through the throttle and then kinda get the rear to pivot around…” Spencer at work on his NSR250RW works bike, when he accomplished the double 250/500cc Grand Prix World Championships in 1985, a feat many consider astonishing in the modern racing age.
FS: It has always been that way. I can speak from my own experience. When it comes to the bikes being pretty similar, I know that the next year I basically would start off with the same bike and you might have particular things that you like on it...the basic bike was the same. I know some of the guys today, they have very specific things in their contracts for the performance of the bike. I can say, honestly, I never had anything like that. Ever.
CE: I know 100%, Valentino had something in his contract. 100%, there’s no question.
CE: And it was not just one or two, it could’ve been three or four steps.
And I was never on the same thing ever. I knew that when I signed up. It didn’t matter what you said, that’s what you had. When I went to Yamaha with Valentino, I was just a backup guy. And luckily Valentino had little tiny different settings. I mean our settings were basically very similar but maybe a half step harder fork spring or shock spring, but basically very similar. But I was the backup guy. But if they brought something and he tested it and he thought it was better, [they’d give it to me and ask,] ‘Colin test this. is it better or worse?’ And if he said it was better and I said it was better, it had to be better. I was more of a backup for him.