Q+A with Tohru Ubukata The San Marino and Riviera di Rimini Grand Prix gave Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi his sixth race win of the season and third in a row as he extended his lead of the world championship to 262 points with just...
Q+A with Tohru Ubukata
The San Marino and Riviera di Rimini Grand Prix gave Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi his sixth race win of the season and third in a row as he extended his lead of the world championship to 262 points with just five races remaining. The win represented the 30th MotoGP victory on Bridgestone tyres and took Rossi to 68 premier class triumphs, equalling Giacomo Agostini's record.
For the second race in a row, Alice Team's Toni Elias fought comfortably towards the front of field to claim a well deserved podium finish. His third place in Misano means that the Spaniard has taken 36 points from a possible 50 in the last two events.
It was a weekend of close competition for MotoGP's tyre manufacturers with a 50-50 split in both qualifying and the race. It was, however, Bridgestone-shod riders who took top honours with Rossi winning Sunday's race and Ducati's Casey Stoner storming to an impressive seventh straight pole position on Saturday afternoon.
Other notable performances from the Rizla Suzuki duo of Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi made it another strong weekend for Bridgestone, but with such renewed competition from its rivals Bridgestone has vowed to continue its tyre development as the championship slowly edges towards its culmination.
Q+A with Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
How was the San Marino and Riviera di Rimini GP from Bridgestone's point of view?
"It was a competitive weekend from a tyre perspective with both manufacturers quite evenly matched over the entire weekend. From Friday practice, we could see that our rivals had returned to their usual high performance level, and there was a very balanced split on all three days of the weekend. Ambient and track temperatures were very high, more so than last year, so the consistency of the tyres over the race distance was quite pleasing. Naturally, Valentino's win was an excellent result for us and our tenth win of the season, but our rivals were not far behind." Did you notice an improvement in qualifying tyre performance?
"On the whole, we have been a bit behind in terms of qualifying results this season, even if Casey has taken pole for seven races in a row. Whenever he has a good feeling from his bike in race trim, he can usually find a similar competitiveness on qualifying tyres. His race tyre pace in Misano was so strong that his fastest lap on race tyres in qualifying would still have been good enough for the second row. It was an exciting qualifying session and it was our strongest all round performance of the season with three riders in the top five, which will hopefully lead to further improvements in coming races."
What did Bridgestone look at in the post-race test?
"We had just one day in Misano after the race itself with a total of five riders. We tested a few important items with Kawasaki and Honda Gresini during the day. Kawasaki looked at improving the set-up of their bike with the front tyre construction that other teams have been evaluating recently, with a view to give more stability and improve the machine's handling. A few of our teams tried this spec tyre in the Misano race after successful testing in Brno with promising results. With the Gresini riders, we carried out an extensive evaluation of new qualifying rubber which, thanks to their hard work in the test, we will make available for the next race in Indianapolis."
How was Dani Pedrosa's first test using Bridgestone tyres?
"Dani Pedrosa tested with our tyres for the first time in the Misano test and he was able get up to speed quite quickly. He was able to complete a lot of laps using our standard specification front and rear tyres, which seemed to be well matched to his Repsol Honda machine. The team had to work hard on adapting his bike to the Bridgestone tyres and there is more work still to be done, but it was a promising first test."