Four Bridgestone-shod manufacturers in the top five at Motegi
In scorching heat, preparations for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix got underway in Motegi today with four of Bridgestone's five teams represented firmly in the top five of the combined classification. Honda's Dani Pedrosa set a searing pace to lead the pack after the opening day, but seven Bridgestone-shod riders lock out positions two to eight, led by Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet.
Honda Gresini's Marco Melandri had a strong first day setting the third best time ahead of Suzuki's John Hopkins and championship-leader Casey Stoner who claimed an overall fifth place on his Ducati. Japanese wildcard rider Kousuke Akiyoshi, who last raced at the Spanish GP in Jerez back in March, sprung a surprise sixth best time. Winner of the previous two MotoGP events at Motegi, Loris Capirossi, finished in seventh ahead of Anthony West who set a strong pace in eighth for Kawasaki.
Bridgestone's range of tyres have performed encouragingly on the first day for the company's home GP, in spite of higher than anticipated track temperatures which reached close to 50C this afternoon. Bridgestone's plan for tomorrow is to conduct some longer unbroken runs with its teams to assess the tyre performance over a more representative distance at this 4.801km Motegi circuit.
Tyre Talk with Junichi Kawajiri - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
How satisified are you with today's performance for Bridgestone's home race weekend?
"From a tyre performance point of view, I am quite pleased. We tested here at the end of August and we were able to define a particular direction for this weekend's race which has given us encouraging results from today's two sessions. We have four of our teams in the top five and have a lot of riders in the top ten, so the performance potential is clearly there. Dani Pedrosa seems to be very strong, though, and he is the benchmark after the opening day."
What is Bridgestone's plan for Saturday?
"We must continue to look at the performance of our tyres over longer runs. The track conditions today were very hot, reaching close to fifty degrees, and it is likely that we will face cooler temperatures on Sunday, so we must also take this into consideration when preparing for the race. Our range of tyres is competitive which each of the four manufacturers we supply with two Kawasaki riders, two Ducatis, two Suzukis and a Honda (Gresini) rider in the top eight, so I would like to continue this trend for the rest of the weekend.
How does Bridgestone feel having three Japanese riders on Bridgestone tyres this weekend
"It has been a pleasure to work again with these three Japanese riders- Kousuke Akiyoshi, Akira Yanagawa and Shinichi Ito. All three of these riders have previous experience on Bridgestone tyres so it will be interesting to listen to their feedback to see what progress we have made. We wish them all the best for their home GP."