Fresh from the traditional summer break, Bridgestone-shod riders were quickly back on the race pace during the opening two free practice sessions in preparation for this weekend's Czech Republic Grand Prix in Brno with...
Fresh from the traditional summer break, Bridgestone-shod riders were quickly back on the race pace during the opening two free practice sessions in preparation for this weekend's Czech Republic Grand Prix in Brno with Ducati's championship-leading rider Casey Stoner showing impressive form. The Australian only relinquished his control of today's classification to a last-gasp one-lap flier from Tech 3 Yamaha's French rider Sylvain Guintoli.
In race trim, Stoner is in good company at the head of the list with fellow Bridgestone-shod rider John Hopkins taking an overall third place and his team-mate Loris Capirossi, winner of last year's Czech Republic GP, in fourth place, the only other man to lap under 1m59s.
Stoner set an impressive seven laps underneath the 1m59s mark in this afternoon's session. His ultimate best time of 1m58.568s was just 0.4s shy of the record Brno race lap set by Capirossi on his way to victory on Bridgestone tyres last season.
Proving the competitiveness of the field, Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet made it four Bridgestone-shod riders from three different manufacturers in the top five this afternoon.
Tyre Talk with Junichi Kawajiri - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
Did Bridgestone have a welcome return to track action in Brno today? "After such a long break, it is good to be back in action here in Brno, the scene of one of our four victories last season. We have had a relatively trouble-free opening day, which has helped us get back into a good working rhythm, and so far the lap times set by our teams and riders appear to be already at a competitive level. We had a little light rain overnight and it has been cooler today compared to the hot temperatures we had yesterday, but I would say that the track is showing similar characteristics to what we experienced last season."
What work has been carried out today? "Brno is a very technical circuit which places a great importance on the set-up of the bike, so it has been important to give our teams a tyre that works well from the start, to maximise their time to work on the bike. We did some initial tyre compound evaluation which has given us a good direction for tomorrow when we will carry out longer runs to assess the durability. Our tyres have performed well over the shorter runs that we have done in today's cooler conditions, but if the temperature changes a lot, we will have to see how the performance of the tyre changes. Overall though, it has been a satisfactory start to the weekend."