The penultimate pre-season test came to a conclusion at the Circuito de Jerez in southern Spain on Monday afternoon after three days of intermittent track activity courtesy of unusually turbulent Spanish weather. Rain and wind...
The penultimate pre-season test came to a conclusion at the Circuito de Jerez in southern Spain on Monday afternoon after three days of intermittent track activity courtesy of unusually turbulent Spanish weather.
Rain and wind prevented teams, riders and tyre manufacturers from conducting uninterrupted running over the entire three days, including a damp official practice on Sunday in which Ducati's Casey Stoner was fastest. A dry final day offered some meaningful running with more useful information collated by Bridgestone's engineers.
A flurry of late qualifying runs shuffled the timesheets on the final afternoon of practice with Valentino Rossi ending the session as the fastest rider on Bridgestone tyres with a time of 1m39.568s. Several other Bridgestone riders were present in the top ten over the course of the test with some solid performances on race tyres. However, the final timesheets show that Bridgestone's qualifying performance still needs to be further improved ahead of the season start in Qatar in three weeks' time.
Q+A with Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
What has Bridgestone managed to achieve over these three days with the mixed weather conditions?
"It was a difficult test for everybody with tricky track conditions over all three days. After the dry first day, we were able to carry out some wet weather tyre testing on Sunday, which was the first occasion for some of our riders to sample our wet specifications. In spite of those conditions, Casey did an exceptional job to set the quickest time and to win the car. On Monday, we had a brief shower at the start of the morning, but from then on it stayed dry, although with some quite gusty wind which was not helpful. We worked on evaluating tyres with a lower temperature compound range compared to the last tests in Sepang and Phillip Island to prepare for the Qatar night race and the Spanish GP in Jerez., We also continued to look closely at our qualifying tyres with many riders conducting detailed evaluation of different specifications."
Has Bridgestone obtained all it needs from this test?
"Of course, we would have preferred a dry day on Sunday, but our riders worked really h ard to get many laps in over the three days and we are grateful for their efforts. Today in particular we have seen some progress that we are sure will prepare us better for the race in March."
In what specific areas does Bridgestone still need to improve qualifying tyres?
"We are quite happy with the durability of the qualifying tyres at this circuit, but it is clear that we are still in need of more grip to allow our riders to make an important step up in terms of lap time. Although our rivals continue to be very strong in this area, I believe we have made improvements since last year and even since the first test of this year. We tried several different specifications on Monday with different riders so we are sure that the variety of detailed feedback will benefit our development in this area."
What is the plan for the next test in Qatar?
"Qatar test is going to be valuable, not only because it allows us to prepare our tyres for the opening race of the year at the same circuit, but also we will be following a night schedule for the first time. We will understand more clearly exactly what track temperatures we are likely to face and how that will affect our tyre performance by racing so late into the night. This will aid the tyre selection process on the Thursday of race weekend when our teams and riders must finalise the 22 rears and 18 fronts that they will have at their disposal according to the tyre restrictions."