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The Japanese firm helped Valentino Rossi return to winning ways at the Shanghai International Circuit last weekend and there were some additional good performances on Bridgestone tyres.
A first win for Valentino Rossi since his switch to Bridgestone tyres over the winter was a just reward, after two podiums in successive races before arriving in China, and the Italian headed a list of six riders on Japanese rubber in the Shanghai top ten.
Whilst Rossi set the fastest lap of the race, a record-breaking 1´59.273 on lap 18 of 22, Ducati Marlboro´s Casey Stoner also made a solid return to the podium with a third-placed finish, making it the second consecutive Chinese GP with two Bridgestone-shod riders on the rostrum.
Other notable performances came from Marco Melandri in fifth, his best result to date with Ducati, Alice Team´s Toni Elias in eighth, another season best on the Desmosedici, Suzuki´s Loris Capirossi in ninth and San Carlo Honda Gresini´s Shinya Nakano in tenth.
The manager of Bridgestone Motorsport´s Motorcycle Race Tyre Development unit, Tohru Ubukata, reviewed the round four visit to the Far East in full in his customary post-race debrief.
Were the Chinese GP race results a good morale boost for Bridgestone?
`We have always been able to enjoy strong results in China, even though the track itself is very challenging. We never head to a Grand Prix venue expecting to get podiums or victories because the competition is very tough, but Valentino´s win, Casey´s third place and top ten results from several of our other teams certainly showed that our tyres worked well in Shanghai again. After a couple of difficult races, it was nice to see our riders in competitive form right from the very first practice session and able to be on the pace throughout the entire weekend.´
Were you surprised by the lap times in the race?
`The lap times of Valentino and Dani (Pedrosa) were very fast in the final part of the race, and even quicker than the practice times. I was pleasantly surprised that our tyres were able to perform so strongly right up to the end of the race, and this is a testament to the work of our development engineers in Japan. In the fastest lap classification, Valentino was quickest, but with Casey third for Ducati, Toni fifth for Alice Team and Loris sixth for Suzuki, we were able to see competitive lap times by many of our teams.´
Some riders were unable to recreate their practice pace in the race, was this related to tyre choice?
`The final tyre choice for the race is always made by our teams, but based on our recommendation. With the drying track conditions faced in China and track temperatures over 20 degrees cooler than during the practice sessions, we suggested to our teams to use medium compound rear tyres, which for most riders was one step softer than in the practice. Some riders were not able to recreate their practice pace, but we did not have any practice time in those track conditions, so it was not an easy situation. Nevertheless, I think all our teams should be commended for their adaptation in such changeable conditions.´
Qualifying appeared to be another step ahead for Bridgestone, were the results within your targets?
`This was the first time this season that we have had two riders on the front row and it was a great qualifying performance from Valentino and Casey. The Suzuki riders also made big steps ahead with Loris and Chris (Vermeulen) in the top eight, their best qualifying results of the season so far. We brought new rear construction qualifiers to China which helped us improve the overall grid positions, even if the gap to pole position is still too much. Our rivals continue to perform very strongly in this area, so we must work even more, but we are getting there step by step.´
How do you view the so-called tyre war after four events?
`There have been four different winners in the first four races, using both brands of tyre, so it is about as even as it could possibly be. There have been two victories using Bridgestone tyres with Casey in Qatar and now Valentino in China, so I believe we can be satisfied. The performance of both tyre manufacturers is at a very high level, as we have seen by the lap times and competitiveness in recent races, but this is the great thing about competition - we must keep up an aggressive rate of development for each and every race.´
Interview courtesy of Bridgestone Motorsport
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