Tyre compounds available: Soft, Medium Round two of the 2009 MotoGP season takes Bridgestone home to an event that has historically yielded great success. Whilst this year, as the sole tyre supplier, it is inevitable...
Tyre compounds available: Soft, Medium
Round two of the 2009 MotoGP season takes Bridgestone home to an event that has historically yielded great success. Whilst this year, as the sole tyre supplier, it is inevitable that a Bridgestone-shod rider will score the manufacturer's sixth consecutive victory at Motegi, a brief look back at recent years paints a picture of strong performances.
At the Twin Ring, Bridgestone-shod riders have triumphed for the past five years. Makoto Tamada scored Bridgestone's first home grand prix victory in 2004, followed by a hat-trick of laurels that fell to Loris Capirossi until 2007. Last year brought a landmark victory for Valentino Rossi, who came from the second row of the grid to score his first four-stroke victory at the Japanese venue, clinching his eighth World Championship crown and the second world title for Bridgestone in the process.
For these last five years, the Japanese Grand Prix has been run at the end of the year, being run as round 12 in 2004 and 2005, before sliding to round 15 from 2006 onwards. This year however, the circuit on which Casey Stoner also secured his and Bridgestone's first World Championship title with the Ducati Team in 2007 is unlikely to decide any title fights.
In a calendar shake-up, the event has now been moved to April and the second round of the season. This could mean temperatures in the region of 15 degrees Celsius, or approximately five to ten degrees Celsius cooler. This is sure to test the operating range of Bridgestone's slicks, as the same soft and medium compounds that were used at temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius during the Qatar GP have been selected for the race.
Motegi is a circuit which sees heavy braking and acceleration, so traditionally it tends to bunch the field and provide good close racing. Turn eleven is a favourite for overtaking moves and spectators alike, as the field hurtles downhill at approaching 300kmh before braking hard into an 80kmh right-hander. Stability under braking and traction under hard acceleration out of corners is crucial at this track, and will provide a totally different challenge for Bridgestone's slicks than they saw in Qatar two weeks ago.
Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle Sport Unit
"Motegi is an important event for us, not least because it is our home event but also because we have seen some very important milestones for Bridgestone set here over the years. Both our World Championships, with Casey and Ducati in 2007 and Valentino and Fiat Yamaha last year, have been decided at this circuit, so for me it holds some special memories.
"Of course our focus changes for this year so that rather than working hard for a sixth consecutive victory, our objective now is to play our part in encouraging close competition, which is what we, the riders, teams and the fans all want to see. Motegi has very different characteristics to Losail, so I am confident of some good racing."
Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
"Motegi is a high-grip and abrasive circuit that places high loads on the tyres because of the hard braking and acceleration. As a result, the tyre's construction needs to be stiff to stop the tyre and the bike moving around too much. Again we have selected the soft and medium compound slicks for this event because the cooler April temperature will demand optimum warm-up performance. We had no problem with this in Qatar, using the same compounds, and even with the abrasive layer of sand and higher temperatures there I was quite happy with durability, so I am confident that these options are the correct choice for Motegi."