French GP: Bridgestone Saturday notes

Stoner takes front row in France Bridgestone will see three of its riders start tomorrow afternoon's French GP in Le Mans from the front two rows of the grid with Ducati's Casey Stoner starting from second place. His lap of 1m33.710s was just ...

Stoner takes front row in France

Bridgestone will see three of its riders start tomorrow afternoon's French GP in Le Mans from the front two rows of the grid with Ducati's Casey Stoner starting from second place. His lap of 1m33.710s was just one-tenth-of-a-second short of Colin Edwards' pole position time and almost three-tenths quicker than Dani Pedrosa's pole pace from last season.

Suzuki's John Hopkins will line up in fifth place on the second row alongside Honda Gresini's Toni Elias who set the sixth quickest time. Kawasaki rider Randy de Puniet, taking part in his home race in Le Mans, claimed eighth place one spot ahead of Elias's team-mate Marco Melandri to make it five Bridgestone-shod riders in the top ten.

Practice times on race tyres have given well founded cause for optimism ahead of tomorrow's race with Hopkins, Elias and Stoner setting the standard in the morning session.

Tyre Talk with Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport -Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development

How satisfied is Bridgestone with this afternoon's qualifying performance? "It is good to have a Bridgestone rider on the front row of the grid, of course, but the overall result is slightly lower than we expected. Three riders on our tyres were able to secure positions on the front two rows but we perhaps thought that the warmer track conditions could have given us more of an advantage. The field is very close again and the one second gap between the top twelve perfectly highlights the competitiveness of the MotoGP machines and tyres this season."

Was Bridgestone able to conclude the race tyre evaluation programme today? "We were able to achieve a lot of positive work on the race tyres today and to finish the programme that we started yesterday. We concluded the initial evaluations of soft and medium specifications and carried out a medium-length simulation on both types covering around half race distance. The grip levels during these runs were very competitive and we were pleased with the results. The track was about 14 degrees hotter this afternoon than in the morning session and our tyres still performed well, so I think we can be cautiously optimistic whatever conditions we face tomorrow. We must keep working hard though because it is the home race for one of our tyre competitors, so we are sure they will be strong."

Are there any areas of performance that still require improvement? "In the first sector, our riders appear to have a slight advantage and all four manufacturer bikes are setting good top speeds in this section of the race track. However, one of the most crucial parts of the track is the final sector, including the penultimate corner, which demands a lot of edge grip from the tyres. This is an area for further improvement ahead of the race."

Riding Perspective - Casey Stoner - Ducati - 2nd Place "I haven't been off the front two rows this season which is something of a surprise because I'm not normally much of a qualifier. I thought we may have had pole position this afternoon but Colin just pipped me at the end. Anyway, the Ducati and the Bridgestone tyres have been working brilliantly all weekend and we have just focussed on slowly improving everything. We are looking pretty good for the race tomorrow afternoon, so we just have to wait and see what is in store."

-credit: bridgestone

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers John Hopkins , Randy de Puniet , Marco Melandri , Toni Elias , Casey Stoner , Dani Pedrosa