Colin Edwards II
Colin Edwards is known as the Texas Tornado and for a very good reason. The man from Houston has twice been crowned as the World Superbike Champion and is a part of the MotoGP scene, with the Yamaha Tech 3 team.
His father, Colin Edwards Sr., was an amateur motorcycle racer himself and it was he who introduced a three year old Colin to the world of MiniBikes. He got hooked and at the age of four, when some kids are still learning to find their way through pre-school, Colin was out there racing at his first motocross race event. Over the next ten years, Edwards became one of the top-ranked junior motocross competitors. He won dozens of races in the 50cc-80cc categories in local, regional as well as national level events.
At the age of 14, Colin stopped participating in motocross due to various teenage distractions. However, in 1990, a visit to a motorcycle race event, with his dad, inspired him to take up racing once again.
He was back in 1991, competing in amateur events across the local area, but rapidly progressed to other national level events. His return was stunning. He was undefeated in all the amateur events and in national events, he won numerous titles to warrant a sponsored ride with South West Motorsports. Thus, just before the 1992 season, Colin Edwards had just turned pro.
In his first year as a professional, Edwards entered the AMA 250cc National series and came out with the championship. He won 5 of the nine races in the series and beat a young Kenny Roberts Jr. in the process. He rode for Vance and Hines on a Yamaha in the AMA Superbike Championships in 1993 and 1994 but this time round, his 6th and 5th place finishes weren’t good enough to warrant more applaud.
In 1995, Yamaha came calling and Edwards was offered a place on the Superbike World Championship Arena. The struggles of competing in an international top level competition were extremely demanding and Colin was unable to cope with the pressures. The loss of his teammate, Yasutomo Nagai, led him to miss the last two events of the year. In 1996 though, he made amends with a wonderful sixth place finish in the Superbike World Championships.
In round 5 of the 1997 season, Edwards withdrew from the competition after he sustained injuries in round five of the Superbike World Championships. He was immediately replaced and couldn’t come back. Fortunately for Edwards, he managed to get a seat in the 1998 Superbike World Championships after negotiating a deal with Honda. Edwards finished the season in 5th place overall and he was beginning to make an impact as he took his first win as well in the season. In 1999, things just kept getting better. Edwards managed more wins and along with Aaron Slight, got Honda a rare one-two finish. Carl Fogarty went on to win the championships but Colin was close behind and that was a sign of things to come for the American.
In 2000, Edwards was given a new Honda VTR-1000 SP1/RC51 to ride in the new season. The twin cylinder bike throttled Edwards past the entire field as he bettered his last season’s performance with a Championship win. Of course, it was rather fortunate that points leader Noriyuki Haga was disqualified after testing positive for a banned substance. Edwards was on the verge of making history but Ducati man, Troy Bayliss, came in the way in 2001 and took the championship win. For the second time in three years, Colin narrowly missed out on the title. His determination was not lost though as in 2002, he came back in the final race of the season, at Imola, to cross the finish line ahead of Troy Bayliss.
His second Superbike World Title prompted a move to the MotoGP team in 2003. He rode for a Aprilia team that was already troubled and in a dismal season, he barely escaped without serious injury after his machine caught fire at Sachsenring. Colin had always been a great bike tester and with his skill and experience, he tried to help the team get out of the rut. But, it was to no avail and Colin had no choice but to leave for greener pastures. He rode for the Telefonica Movistar Honda team and achieved his first MotoGP podium place at the Donington Park circuit in 2004. His second season, with a more competitive bike, was much better and he finished in fifth place overall.
He shifted teams again in 2005 and moved to the Gauloises Yamaha factory team. As a partner to Valentino Rossi, he improved his performances and got a best standing of second place at the Laguna Seca track, behind Nicky Hayden. His year-end standing became better as he finished at an overall fourth place and he took 3 podium finishes on his journey through the season.
In 2006, his loyalties stayed where they were, with the Yamaha factory team and alongside Valentino Rossi. The team had some major problems in the initial part of the year with major tyre wear issues.
There was some “chattering” as well, on the bike, and to counter this, the team made a new chassis. While Rossi took to it immediately, Colin was unable to adjust and thus, he was stuck with the older version. Despite the issues, he finished the season at 7th place. His best finish for the season was a 4th place finish at Estoril.
In 2007, Colin had a new deal with Fiat Yamaha, on the new Yamaha YZR-M1 800cc. Both Edwards and Rossi had trouble in adjusting to the new bike with the Michelin tyres. Edwards only managed a second place at Donington Park, his best finish in a season where he finished at a disappointing ninth place.
In 2008, Edwards will take to the tracks with the Tech 3 Yamaha team, alongside fellow Superbike world Champion, James Toseland. He will be looking to recreate the form of his own Superbiking days as he takes on a large field of experienced riders including a determined ex-teammate, Valentino Rossi, who will be looking to steal the title back from Casey Stoner.