De Puniet, Elias and West lead Bridgestone's home charge from row two Bridgestone-shod Kawasaki Racing riders Randy de Puniet and Anthony West will line up either side of Honda Gresini's Toni Elias on the second row of the grid for tomorrow's ...
De Puniet, Elias and West lead Bridgestone's home charge from row two
Bridgestone-shod Kawasaki Racing riders Randy de Puniet and Anthony West will line up either side of Honda Gresini's Toni Elias on the second row of the grid for tomorrow's Japanese Grand Prix in Motegi with De Puniet leading the charge from fourth place on the grid, just 0.068s from the front row.
Ducati duo Loris Capirossi and Casey Stoner will start the race from eighth and ninth positions ahead of fellow Bridgestone users Marco Melandri (Honda Gresini) and John Hopkins (Suzuki) who comprise two-thirds of the fourth row of the grid in tenth and 11th places respectively.
Weather conditions are expected to change ahead of tomorrow afternoon's race, which could threaten to shake up the running order that has emerged this weekend. Honda's Dani Pedrosa has led each of the four practice sessions this weekend, including his dominant pole position this afternoon, but several Bridgestone-shod riders have also set encouraging times on race tyres, leaving hope that Bridgestone-shod riders can challenge in the lead pack tomorrow.
Tyre Talk with Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
Are you satisfied with today's qualifying tyre performance?
"Congratulations to both Kawasaki riders, Randy and Anthony, for some impressive flying laps, also to Toni Elias for a great second row result. Overall though, I am not really satisfied with the performance of our selected qualifying tyres, and I believe that they were a bit too hard, even for the very hot track conditions that we have experienced. Track temperatures again reached close to fifty degrees, quite surprising for this time of year in Japan, but the forecast is for cooler temperatures tomorrow. Tomorrow's race, I think, will be very competitive, so these grid positions will hopefully help them."
What has the race pace been and how will it be affected if the temperatures drop?
"The performance of our tyres has been pretty much as expected in spite of the weather. We evaluated hard and medium specifications today and put a lot of laps on our tyres, which showed encouraging consistency. The tyre performance this weekend seems to be very close and competitive and, with the exception of Pedrosa, who has been a step ahead all weekend, I think a lot of riders are very closely matched. It will certainly make for a tough race. We do not really know what the weather will bring tomorrow which adds an element of unpredictability, but we will make sure we are in the best position after the morning warm-up to select the most competitive tyres for our five teams and twelve riders in the race."
Riding Perspective - Randy de Puniet - Kawasaki - 4th position on the grid
"I'm a little bit disappointed because I wanted to be on the first row but it wasn't possible. I gave the maximum, and I was going well on the last lap, but Checa was in front of me and I lost a few tenths so couldn't make it. Still, I hope to go well in the race I'm very happy to be the first Bridgestone rider on the grid, everybody's done a great job so far this weekend and I comfortable with the bike, the race tyres and hope to go well tomorrow."