Colin Edwards To Enter Semi-Retirement Early: Will Race Indy, Silverstone And Valencia, And That's It?
Colin Edwards will contest only three more MotoGP rounds in the 2014 season. The Texan is to race at Indianapolis, Silverstone and Valencia, before hanging up his helmet. From Brno, Alex De Angelis will take Edwards' place, and Edwards will race as a third rider for the NGM Mobile Forward Racing team in the UK and at the last race of the year.
Edwards' final year in MotoGP has not gone according to plan. The Texas Tornado had hoped that the arrival of the Yamaha Open class bike at Forward, to replace the Kawasaki-powered CRT machine would spark a revival in his fortunes. When Edwards finally got to ride the Open class Yamaha, however, he found to his dismay that he could not get on with the Yamaha chassis, and was unable to get the bike to turn. He had pinned his hopes on the arrival of a chassis from FTR, but financial problems for the British chassis manufacturer meant he was left to struggle with the Yamaha frame until Mugello. When a new chassis did arrive, fresh from the drawing board of now ex-FTR designer Mark Taylor, it did not see Edwards drastically improve his pace.
Long before the new chassis arrived, Edwards had already made the decision to retire. At Austin, Edwards told the media that 2014 would be his last season in World Championship motorcycle racing. His plan, he said, was to see out the year, and then retire, possibly taking up some kind of testing role. That everything might not proceed to plan became apparent a few races later, when rumors emerged at Jerez that Forward boss Giovanni Cuzari was considering replacing Edwards early. Cuzari denied those rumors, but as the season proceeded, it was clear that the Texan was not scoring the results which he and the team had expected. Further rumors emerged over the summer break, that Colin Edwards would not finish all of the races left in 2014, with De Angelis taking his place. Edwards denied those rumors, but the situation remained very unclear.
It had confused even the two principal players involved. Over a series of meetings between Edwards and Forward boss Cuzari, the pair have been involved in thrashing out some form of resolution. The picture that emerges is that at the moment, Edwards will race at Indianapolis on Sunday, and be replaced for the remainder of the season by De Angelis. Edwards will race at Silverstone and Valencia, but on a third bike alongside Aleix Espargaro and De Angelis. Those two races are important to Edwards, as the Texan is massively popular with British fans, and regards the UK round as his third home race.
In an interview with the MotoGP.com website, Edwards clarified what he could. "We're still figuring it out," Edwards said. "Honestly, I won't be in Brno, but for sure that I know of, [I will be at] Silverstone and Valencia, 100%. Other than that, we're just playing it by ear, we'll see what happens." He was still committed to the Forward Racing team, and was focused on developing the new chassis built by Forward. "[I'm] still working with the guys, still trying to get this new chassis to work," Edwards said.
Forward boss Giovanni Cuzari explained that the idea was to give Edwards a new role in the team. "We are looking to make a new kind of job with Colin," Cuzari told MotoGP.com. That meant replacing Edwards at the next round at Brno, but it did not mean the team was abandoning Edwards. "I am for sure not leaving the rider, because I can never forget what Colin do for me in these three seasons, and also I can never forget that Colin has a lot of experience that we need for our team and for our future."
In the future, Edwards could turn his hand to developing young American talent. With both Edwards and Hayden absent at Brno, the MotoGP grid will be without an American rider for the first time since the 1980s, the period when the US dominated Grand Prix racing. The US is currently desperately short of talent, and with the domestic series in disarray, it is not clear where fresh young blood is to come from. The situation is so dire that Dorna are in talks with the FIM and Wayne Rainey to set up a North American championship, and open up a new series to develop US talent. With Edwards already running his Texas Tornado Boot Camp dirt track school, there would be an obvious place for Edwards to play a role.