Fresh from an exciting weekend at the Japanese Grand Prix in which Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi claimed his sixth premier class title, and first using Bridgestone tyres, MotoGP moves directly to the picturesque Phillip Island circuit in ...
Fresh from an exciting weekend at the Japanese Grand Prix in which Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi claimed his sixth premier class title, and first using Bridgestone tyres, MotoGP moves directly to the picturesque Phillip Island circuit in southern Australia for round 16 of this season's 18-race championship.
The Australian GP has been a permanent fixture on the calendar since Phillip Island hosted the first event at the end of the 1980s. A string of races were held at the Eastern Creek circuit in Sydney from 1991-1996 before Phillip Island regained hosting duties from 1997 where it has remained ever since. This season's event will be the 14th in total to be held at the challenging track.
Australian rider Casey Stoner took a glorious home race win last year leading a Ducati 1-2 with Loris Capirossi in second place. The strength of the Ducatis in 2007 was underlined with a fifth-place finish for Alex Barros on the Pramac d'Antin machine. Bridgestone has a strong record of podium results at the circuit with third place for Carlos Checa and Ducati in 2005, and a runner-up position for Chris Vermeulen on the Rizla Suzuki in 2006's wet-drying race.
Bridgestone heads to Phillip Island in buoyant mood after seeing Rossi take the second consecutive world championship for a Bridgestone-shod rider with a fine win in Motegi. The race saw Bridgestone riders take a podium clean sweep with Casey Stoner in second and Dani Pedrosa in third. Although the title is wrapped up, second place in the championship is still up for grabs with Stoner's Motegi result allowing him to extend his grasp over the position with three races remaining.
Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Sport Unit
"After the race and championship success in Motegi, we are going to Australia in positive mood but certainly not underestimating the challenge that Phillip Island will present us. We have been gradually improving our performances at the circuit over the last few seasons with third place in 2005, second place in 2006 and last year's 1-2 result with the Ducati team. Casey's win last year was an important result for us at Phillip Island and I hope that we can show a similar competitiveness this weekend. The weather will play an important role as it is usually quite cool at this time of the year. Sunday's race will start later than normal at 16:00 local time, so we must take this into consideration when working with our teams to allocate the 40 slick tyres on Thursday. We have three Australian riders with Casey, Chris and Anthony and we wish them the very best for their home grand prix."
Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Race Tyre Development
"Phillip Island is always one of the biggest tests for us during the season. The track is very demanding, especially on the left-hand side of the tyre because of the number of high-speed left-direction corners which riders must negotiate. The final corner is particularly tough on that side of the tyre and this puts a real focus on durability over the race distance. For this reason, we tend towards harder compound rear tyres at Phillip Island. The left-hand side of the tyre is used so much in the final corners of the lap that heading down the main straight the right-hand side has cooled down a lot, so we must prepare tyres that offer a good warm-up performance to allow riders to attack the first sector with confidence. The riders enjoy racing at Phillip Island, and the circuit has the highest average speed of anywhere else on the calendar, so it promises to be an exhilarating show."
Newly-crowned world champion Casey Stoner made a return to winning form in his home GP last year, taking Phillip Island victory. The Ducati rider was almost half-a-second clear of the field in Friday practice and went on to qualify on the front row in third place. He won with a dominant performance, taking the lead from the start. He eventually finished seven seconds clear of team-mate Loris Capirossi to take a Ducati 1-2 with Valentino Rossi in third.