Bridgestone Celebrates Record Season With Home Hat-trick
Bridgestone Motorsport is today celebrating a record season in MotoGP after Ducati rider Loris Capirossi stormed to a sensational Japanese GP victory, the third consecutive Motegi win on Bridgestone tyres.
Starting from pole after a dominant qualifying lap yesterday, Capirossi was able to keep his lead into the final corner to fend off a strong initial challenge from Marco Melandri throughout the early laps before gradually extending his advantage on Bridgestone tyres all the way to the chequered flag. The result takes his and Bridgestone's 2006 season win tally to three and brings the Japanese tyre manufacturer's total number of podiums this season to nine. Bridgestone's previous season best came in 2005 in which it scored two wins, eight podiums and three poles.
Sete Gibernau underlined the excellent performance of the Ducati-Bridgestone package by taking fourth place after a close battle with Kawasaki's Shinya Nakano who crashed out from fifth position on the final lap of the 24-lap race. Gibernau rode a spirited race to take his equal best result of the season after a fourth place in Jerez and last weekend in Australia.
None of Kawasaki's three riders completed the race after a strong weekend which had seen them regularly among the frontrunners. In addition to Nakano's last lap fall from fifth, Randy de Puniet crashed out on lap eight, the same lap as wildcard entry Naoki Matsudo was forced to retire with a technical problem.
Suzuki also experienced a tough afternoon with John Hopkins making a valiant recovery back to 12th after being forced off track by another rider early on in the race. He finished just one place behind Motegi rookie Chris Vermeulen and one in front of the team's wildcard rider Kousuke Akiyoshi who enjoyed a great race to finish ahead of more experienced MotoGP riders.
Loris Capirossi - Ducati Corse - Race Winner: "It is difficult to ask for a better weekend than that. Thanks to all the team and to Bridgestone who came to Motegi with a good focus and many good tyres. We had a strong pace from Friday already and in qualifying I was able to do a great lap for pole. I got a good start to the race and had a good rhythm lapping in the 1m47s. This is a very important victory for us, also for Bridgestone in their home GP, so this win is for the whole team."
Bridgestone Corporation Senior Vice-President and Member of the Board, Tatsuya Okajima, in attendance at today's GP commented: "That was an incredible achievement for Ducati, Loris and Bridgestone in Motegi today in front of our home crowd and hundreds of Bridgestone employees and management members. It is an honour to take our third victory of the season in the Japanese Grand Prix and to celebrate our most successful season in MotoGP after just five seasons in the sport. I would like to extend my sincerest appreciation to all of our teams - Ducati, Kawasaki and Suzuki - for such a big effort this weekend, and to all of our supporters here in Japan and around the world."
Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle Racing: "Congratulations to Loris and Ducati for this fantastic result today. It was a close battle with Marco to start with, but after a while Loris was able to expand his lead and to take this historic win, ours and Ducati's third of the season to make 2006 our most successful season ever. Sete was also close to taking his debut 2006 podium, but his fourth place was nevertheless a positive result and a good reward for his hard efforts this weekend. It was a special feeling for Bridgestone to take our third win here at Motegi in a row in front of the many fans, Bridgestone employees, guests and VIPs that we have welcomed this weekend. We have used some new shape rear tyre specifications specifically developed for this race and our tyres have performed competitively this weekend, as in recent races. I am just sorry that Kawasaki and Suzuki riders were not able to capitalise on this during the race for various reasons. A special mention must go also to Akiyoshi for such a commendable weekend as a Suzuki wildcard. After three races, we take away two second places and today's victory, which combined with Loris's Brno win, have seen Bridgestone tyres at the heart of the racing action and challenging for race wins. We will continue to put our maximum effort into the final two races back in Europe, knowing that the competition will be fierce and intense right up to the finish."