Italy/Catalunya GP Debrief: Q+A with Tohru Ubukata The first set of back-to-back races in this season's enthralling MotoGP championship saw Bridgestone-shod riders secure four podium positions from a possible six with Valentino Rossi and Casey...
Italy/Catalunya GP Debrief: Q+A with Tohru Ubukata
The first set of back-to-back races in this season's enthralling MotoGP championship saw Bridgestone-shod riders secure four podium positions from a possible six with Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner making podium trips in both Mugello and Catalunya.
Rossi took his third consecutive win of the season in Mugello, but had to push hard right up to the chequered flag to fend off a competitive Stoner, who set the fastest lap of the race on his way to second place ahead of Dani Pedrosa. In Catalunya, it was Pedrosa who took race win honours, but Rossi and Stoner enjoyed another closely-fought battle, with Rossi taking second and Stoner third.
Bridgestone enjoyed one of its most competitive weekends of the season so far in Mugello with strong race performances also from Honda Gresini's Alex de Angelis, who stormed to fourth place. Rossi also took the first Bridgestone-shod pole position of the season at the Italian track. Stoner then claimed his first pole position of the year the following weekend with an impressively quick lap, the fastest ever lap by a motorcycle around the Circuit de Catalunya.
Q+A with Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
How would you assess the back-to-back races in Mugello and Catalunya
"We enter a tough period of the season with lots of back-to-back races at circuits where our rivals have traditionally been competitive, so the results of Mugello and Catalunya were quite satisfying. Mugello is one of the few tracks where we have never seen a rider on our tyres take victory, so the fact we could enjoy our first one-two of the season with Valentino winning and Casey in second was a great result."
What influence did the weather have on race weekend preparations?
"It seems that the rain is following MotoGP this season!Both Mugello and Catalunya race weekends were affected by rain, which made tyre choice for the race more difficult. We had limited dry running in the practice sessions, which prevented us from carrying out the usual longer runs with the preferred tyre specification. When we do not have the chance to assess the tyre performance over medium-long runs in practice, there is always a question mark for the race, so I was particularly pleased with the performance over the full race distance in both events."
For both races, there was a Bridgestone-shod rider on pole position, was this a surprise?
"It is no secret that qualifying has not been one of our strengths this year, but we have been making important progress with our qualifying tyres in recent race weekends. In Mugello, we enjoyed our most competitive qualifying session of the season with Valentino taking his first pole position on our tyres. Loris also qualified on the front row for the first time since the end of 2006, which was very nice to see, while Casey was not far off the front row in fourth. In Catalunya, Casey did an amazing lap and a great job to take pole position, but it was the rider who made the difference."
What did Bridgestone work on in the post-Catalunya test?
"In the post Catalunya test, we worked mainly on rear compound and construction tests for fundamental development. The weather again played its part, though, and we were limited with our running on Tuesday. We were able to look at the tyre performance in hotter conditions on Monday with the track temperature over forty degrees, so this will help us prepare for races like Sachsenring, which is traditionally a hot race weekend. Our busy schedule continues with back-to-back races in Donington and Assen, while we also have a important test in Brno next week. The track has been totally resurfaced since last year's event and the revised tyre regulations allow us to carry out a two-day test ahead of the race weekend, so this test will be crucial in our preparations for this year's event."