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GP Week : Issue 97
Edwards makes u-turn as Ducati option folds COLIN Edwards was left high and dry after the shock announcement that Ducati is to pull out of the World Superbike series, and was forced into a sudden U-turn to try to retain his MotoGP ride with Yamaha. With his hopes of retaining his MotoGP slot dwindling, the GP veteran and former double SBK champion had been expecting to return to production-based series next year as a factory Ducati rider. With that option abruptly terminated, a Plan B had to be hastily reinforced. GP insiders noted a radical change of mood at the Indy weekend in public: behind closed doors Edwards was locked in discussions with his current Yamaha satellite team. They may have entailed some back- tracking. Over recent races the Texan has been increasingly critical of Yamaha, and a lack of development to the B-team bikes. Comments included: "It's last year's bike, just with a slower engine. I'm riding better than ever, and I look like a **** moron;" adding: "If Ben's bike was any good, he'd be on the rostrum every weekend." Happily, it is likely to suit the team to keep the highly experienced rider on. Monster Tech 3 chief Hervé Poncharal will lose Ben Spies, and hopes to replace him with Superbike star Cal Crutchlow. With no other suitable second rider on the horizon, Edwards's breadth of knowledge could be highly beneficial to the British rookie. The deal is sweetened by backing from Yamaha USA, anxious to retain Edwards as a long-term Yamaha man. Team chief Hervé Poncharal told MotoGP come that he hoped to make an announcement about Crutchlow next week, and said: "Colin has always told me he would like to do one more year before retiring. This year he has been proving that he still has the speed. Yamaha and Tech 3 have an interest in seeing him stay, so we are working on something." Edwards came to GP racing in 2003 with Aprilia, and since then has raced a Gresini Honda and a factory Yamaha before moving down to the satellite team. Indianapolis was his 130th GP start, all in the premier class. He has scored three pole positions and 11 rostrum finishes, but a GP win has proved elusive: he lost his best chance at Assen in 2006 when he crashed on the very last corner. Crutchlow combo may save his ride 17 Moto GP news >>