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Golden start for Bridgestone

Golden start for Bridgestone

Providing tyres for Losail race winner Casey Stoner, Bridgestone had an excellent start to the 2007 season in Qatar.

Providing tyres for Losail race winner Casey Stoner, Bridgestone had an excellent start to the 2007 season in Qatar. With 4 riders in the top ten and a new track at which they have taken victory to add to their collection, representatives from the tyre manufacturer head to Jerez on the back of a positive performance, as explained by Manager of Motorcyle Sport Hiroshi Yamada in a post-race debrief.

"Qatar was one of a handful of circuits where our tyres have struggled for consistency and competitiveness in the past. Although Loris Capirossi finished in third place on the podium last year, the characteristics of the track have often caused us some durability issues, so we set out to improve the situation through a detailed test programme at the Qatar test in February. We noticed that there had been improvements to the grip levels at the circuit compared to last year, which in turn seemed to benefit our new generation tyres. We left the test in a positive frame of mind, but the level of competition is so high in MotoGP, race wins are never easy to come by."

The biggest advantage we saw from running on Thursday was that there were no major issues with tyre performance. That allowed our teams to get straight on setting up the bikes without changing the tyre variable. The new regulations restricting riders to just 17 rear tyres and 14 front tyres over the weekend perhaps made teams a bit more cautious with tyre use. In both sessions, most riders used only one set of tyres and the lap times were still quite respectable. With more than a race distance on the same tyre, we could see that the durability trouble that we have seen in the past had been greatly reduced. I think by focussing on bike set-up, the teams were in good shape by Friday." The new regulations permitting only 31 tyres per rider at any Grand Prix came into effect this week for the first time, and Yamada noted the helpfulness of prior testing in aiding with tyre choices.

"Based on the results from the test, we already had a good idea of our teams' preferences heading into the weekend. On the set-up day of each GP, our technical staff had a detailed tyre briefing with all teams to finalise the plan for the weekend. In Qatar, we knew that we would offer a medium and a hard spec to all of our teams and suggested that each rider had enough tyres available for two qualifying runs. There were some individual adjustments to the allocation, for example Randy de Puniet opted for three qualifying tyres, while Toni Elias asked for softer front and hard specs to fit with his riding style. Tyre allocation is ultimately the teams' decision to make based on our advice."

Development of qualifying tyres is something that we have been working on a lot over the winter and we could definitely notice the improvements in Qatar. The four manufacturers which we supply this year – Ducati, Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki – all had one of its bikes in the top eight on the grid with some very strong performances from Casey and Toni especially. It was also particularly pleasing to see that the top Honda bike (Elias) was on Bridgestone tyres."

In the race itself, Casey showed himself to be a real contender this season with a controlled and mature victory, fending off pressure from Valentino throughout the race. From a tyre point of view, we were generally pleased with the durability of the tyres and the competitiveness which they showed in race trim. Casey set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap, a 1m56.528s, which was the fastest time he had set on race tyres over the entire weekend, while John Hopkins' and Marco Melandri's end results reflected their overall competitiveness. We took particular satisfaction from the year-on-year improvements made at Qatar, which became the sixth track on this year's calendar where a rider on Bridgestone tyres has taken victory (after previous success in Jerez, Brno, Motegi, Sepang and Valencia)"

MotoGP, 2007, Commercialbank GRAND PRIX OF QATAR

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