Colin Edwards' future in MotoGP has been uncertain for some time now, and rumors about what comes next have been circulating continuously. As late as Mugello, there appeared to be a good chance that Edwards could remain with Tech 3, Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis hinting to MotoMatters.com that Edwards' long experience in MotoGP and his unquestionable development skills could play a key role in helping to develop Yamaha's 2012 MotoGP bike, especially important as MotoGP reverts to a 1000cc formula.
Since then, Edwards' star has waned with Yamaha, and the Texan has been linked with rides in World Superbikes and elsewhere. The latest rumor - first published by Britain's MCN, and today confirmed by GPOne.com - is that Edwards could end up on a CRT bike. The Texan has been linked with the Forward Racing team, currently racing with Jules Cluzel and Raffaele de Rosa (who replaced Alex Baldolini) in Moto2. The Forward team is one of the teams whose entry as a CRT has been accepted by IRTA, and is expected to field a BMW-powered Suter in 2012. At a pre-event conference call ahead of this weekend's Red Bull Indianapolis GP, Edwards refused to talk about his future, saying he expected to make an announcement at Misano.
Jensen Beeler (who is helping out MotoMatters.com with our coverage of Indy) of the excellent motorcycle website Asphalt & Rubber went to quiz Edwards about his future, and though the Texan remained coy about making any announcements, he told Beeler that a CRT bike was definitely an option. "Could be a possibility. I can't say yes, no or maybe to anything right now," Edwards said. "Man, I've got so many pieces of the puzzle, we've just got to converge everything and put all the pieces together. Right now, I can't say yes or no."
When asked about other options he had, Edwards said he had had plenty of offers. "You know, I had an offer, a really good offer to go to World Superbikes, but you know with Yamaha pulling out over there, and with rumors floating around these guys [Dorna] buying the Superbike thing, I just didn't feel like it was the right decision. And obviously there are folks here that are interested in having me ride a motorcycle." But MotoGP remained where he wanted to be, Edwards said. "This is the top, the world stage, the one to be on, and yeah, I'd like to stick around for a few more years."
The main objection that had been made to the CRT teams was that the bikes would be nowhere near competitive. The Suter-BMW test at Mugello seemed to confirm this, with Mika Kallio posting times over 6 seconds slower than Casey Stoner on Honda's 800cc MotoGP machine. A month later, and much had been improved: At Brno, Kallio had cut the deficit to under 4 seconds, and more importantly, the comparison was with Honda's 2012 MotoGP bike, competing under the 1000cc rules. The Suter had made a huge step forward, and clearly, there was still some potential in the CRT concept.
The test had clearly intrigued Edwards, and the Texan could also see the potential. Beeler asked Edwards if he thought CRT bikes could be competitive against the factory bikes, and Edwards' answer was illuminating. "I don't think we know," Edwards replied. "You know, the formula is, especially with the fuel we can run, 3 liters more I think, it's, there's an advantage there. As far as weight, and bike and some other things, there's definitely a disadvantage. You know, you're using a production engine. So, there will be tracks I think where a CRT bike will get its doors blown off: Mugello, Barcelona; you get on the straightaway and it'll be hasta la vista. And then there are tracks - Laguna, Sachsenring, and possibly Assen - where we're already clipping so much power it's just ridiculous, and we're only on 800s. So, there'll be tracks where, is it going to compete for a win? Maybe not. But I think there'll be tracks where it's going to surprise some people."
At Brno, rumors had also emerged that Herve Poncharal's team were also developing a CRT bike, as a possible - cheaper - alternative to continuing as a satellite team. The bike - rumored to be a Yamaha R1 engine in a frame built and designed by Tech 3 crew chief and resident engineering genius Guy Coulon - would have been an alternative to a Yamaha M1, but Tech 3 boss denied to Beeler that the team was pursuing that option. "At the moment, we are busy enough," he said. "The same team that is going to all the races is building the Moto2 bike, and this is enough. As a manager, you have to realize what you can and cannot do."
Colin Edwards thought that a Yamaha R1 in a custom chassis would be a great option for a CRT bike, however. Asked if he thought that a Yamaha engine in a CRT chassis could compete with the Suter BMWs and FTR Aprilias that the other CRT teams will be running, Edwards was emphatic. "Easy. 100%," Edwards said. "For me, the weapon of choice if you were going to go CRT would be that."