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Bridgestone reflect on Estoril learning experience

Bridgestone reflect on Estoril learning experience

Bridgestone´s manager of Motorcycle Race Tyre Development, Tohru Ubukata, reviews a challenging visit to Portugal for the Japanese tyre suppliers.

The positives for Bridgestone at last weekend´s Grande Premio de Portugal were Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi´s second successive podium and John Hopkins´s first top five finish for Kawasaki, but round three was a big challenge for the Japanese tyre company.

Renewed competitiveness from Michelin at the start of the 2008 season, in particular in their Yamaha and Repsol Honda collaborations, means that Bridgestone too have to work increasingly hard to achieve results at every round.

With Estoril´s unique layout and changeable weather conditions there were some obvious demands to contend with at the Atlantic coast venue – where there was no winter testing to aid preparation for the GP.

During rain affected free practice sessions, and on a drying wet track in particular Bridgestone had the edge over their French rivals, but Saturday qualifying and Sunday´s race took place in almost perfectly dry conditions, with Michelin enjoying the better results overall.

Although there were a couple of crashes from riders on their competitors´ compounds, the Bridgestone camp might have been feeling a sense of anti-climax after the race when it looked like Rossi might be en route to his first victory since moving onto Japanese rubber – only for the Italian to fade slightly in the second half of the race.

Meanwhile, World Champion Casey Stoner, the rider who delivered 10 wins on Bridgestones last year, could only manage sixth place – though his tribulations in the race did not appear to be down to his tyres.

Summarising the Portuguese visit, Bridgestone´s manager of Motorcycle Race Tyre Development, Tohru Ubukata, stated, `I think the end results from Portugal were actually better than we expected at a circuit that has not been favourable to us in recent years. However we are not satisfied with the performance level of our tyres, especially in comparison to that of our rivals, so we must work harder.´

`Valentino, John and Casey did a great job on Sunday to salvage some strong results from the tough weekend with Valentino taking his second consecutive podium on our tyres.´

Commenting on the role the weather had played, Ubukata added, `We used two different specification wet weather tyres in Friday morning´s practice, and also in the Sunday warm-up. The results were very pleasing and riders were able to set competitive times in these damp-drying conditions.´

`When the track was dry and cool, we found it difficult to get the best out of the tyres, as grip levels were much lower. After the track had dried on Friday, the surface conditions were not very good and we could not get the required level of grip from the tyres in those conditions.´

After a day of post-GP testing on Monday, which provided a last chance to gather data ahead of round four´s trip to Shanghai, Ubukata commented, `We tried mainly new rear tyres for both qualifying and races, covering new compounds and new constructions. We found these new specifications to provide better overall grip, and we now plan to introduce some of these tyres at the next race in China.´

MotoGP, 2008

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