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Edwards: About my Season
13 October 2000 - Press Release from Castrol Honda
2000 World Superbike champion - Colin Edwards
Castrol Honda's Colin Edwards is the new World Superbike champion after one of the most demanding campaigns ends at Brands Hatch this weekend with victory for the affable Texan and Honda¹s new VTR twin-cylinder machine. Edwards oozed confidence as he entered the 2000 series and immediately made an impression with a spectacular victory in the opening race of the year at Kyalami, South Africa.
"We had a great pre-season, setting fastest times and breaking lap records just about everywhere we tested," recalls Edwards. "But all that counts for nothing if it doesn't contribute towards bagging those championship points. I wanted to win the first race of the year so much. After building up so much expectation with the new VTR I knew it was important to let everyone know I wanted the championship badly."
The championship winning combination
Edwards followed up his opening round success with two fifth places at Phillip Island in Australia before scooping his first pole position of the year at Sugo in Japan a week later.
"There were times at some circuits this year when I knew I had the fast lap in me and Sugo was one of those. But the races there were tough. Carl Fogarty was injured the previous week and both Noriyuki Haga and me were looking at each other to challenge for the title - that showed in our Sugo race results."
Edwards took fifth and third place finishes away from Sugo. The 26-year-old from Conroe in Texas was back to champion-elect form at Donington Park in round four, winning the opening race from pole position before - unusually for the consistent American - crashing out of second place in race two. His domination reached a new level at Monza in Italy with a third successive pole position followed by a win and a second place at the historical Italian venue. A stunning fourth consecutive pole position came at the ultra-fast Hockenheim circuit in Germany, leading to consistent fourth and second place finishes.
Edwards' mid-season dip in form, almost typical of any championship campaign, began at Misano following a crash on his Superpole lap which left him 15th on the grid. A first race crash and second race 10th place were far from Edwards' hopes from the San Marino round
He's champion but still has a weekend of work ahead
'It was about that time that I started travelling to Japan to test for the Suzuka 8 hours and I think the schedule was starting to take its toll," admits Edwards who travelled to and from Europe to Suzuka four times in seven weeks. The following round at Valencia showed signs of improvement. Fifth on the grid, he finished fifth and fourth in the two races which made up the Spanish round. His home event at Laguna Seca was one in which Edwards was intent on success. Having qualified in second place the former 250cc American champion notched up second and fourth places, he recalls: "That was probably one of our worst"tracks as far as tire wear was concerned. I think it was the same for a lot of other riders but, compared to my results in Spain, I was just happy to get back on the podium."
Mid-season, with a head of hair.
Confident of repeating his 1999 double victory, Edwards arrived at Brands Hatch eager to take his first win since the Italian round in May. After qualifying in second place Edwards was in confident mood but the championship he had led all season was about to produce a further twist. A first race, first lap crash ended Edwards' hopes of Brands Hatch victories. Forced to race his spare machine in the re-started opening race, he took a lowly 10th, followed by an equally disappointing sixth place. "It was points in the bag at the end of the day,"says Edwards. "Haga was my nearest challenger and I still managed to get more points that him on the day - somehow!"
The August break was never more appreciated and Edwards - in his third year with the Castrol Honda team - bounced back in emphatic style. Rounds 11 and 12 in Holland and Germany brought two pole positions, three wins and a fifth place from the four races - the championship was all but won. After the Oschersleben event Edwards held a commanding lead but was prevented from celebrating due to the pending court hearing for rival Haga after the Japanese rider's failed anti-doping test in South Africa in April.
Edwards comments: "I was really disappointed that the Haga saga dragged on for so long. If he tested positive for a banned substance, he tested positive - what more can be said? In Germany we should have been celebrating winning the world title but it was hard with this Haga hearing still to take place."
Prior to this weekend's final round Edwards had proven his champion status. From 12 rounds on five continents he had bagged six pole positions and seven race wins. Edwards had moved from fifth in the series in 1998 to second in ?99 to scoop the ultimate prize this year.
Back to the best team in the paddock?
"I'm still not convinced that the effort of the team and of Honda has been fully appreciated," says Edwards. "We've raced a brand new machine this year and its all credit to Honda that they've produced their first twin-cylinder superbike and it's a winner first time out." He adds: "After a demanding year both physically and mentally I'm ready for some relaxation before I can get my head around starting the defence of this title."
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