James Toseland believes he is on course for his strongest performance in a long time after an encouraging run in practice at Phillip Island. The Tech 3 Yamaha rider has had a tough second season in MotoGP and will return to the World Superbike Championship next season. But in Australia today he spent much of free practice in the top six and ended up seventh, right behind works Yamaha man Jorge Lorenzo.
"I'm satisfied with seventh because we've managed to get some good information on the set-up and I feel I'm in my best position on a Friday for a long time," said Toseland. "I was fast right from the off and in the top six for a long period which was really encouraging.
My guys worked hard as always to improve the bike and by the end of the session I felt we'd made some real progress. I had a small issue with the balance from front to rear when exiting corners, but we've got some ideas on how to improve that tomorrow."
His session was interrupted by a fall on the approach to MG corner, but he was able to get the bike back across the infield to the pits and swiftly rejoin.
"That was just a small mistake of mine," said Toseland. "I was good in that section of the track and looking to make up some time on the splits where I wasn't quite so fast and I just lost the front. "It cost me a bit of time but didn't knock me out of my rhythm too much and by the end I was happy with my times and confident I can be fighting for a top six on Sunday."
His teammate Colin Edwards was even more competitive, taking fifth place despite a slow start to the session. The American had switched to a set-up last used in pre-season testing after Lorenzo reported strong results with it, and took several runs to get the settings fine-tuned.
"Generally we show up and the bike is in the ballpark, but today we were still out in the car park waiting to get in," said Edwards. "But my guys did an amazing job and we can still make it better tomorrow, so I'm confident we can have a strong weekend."