Portuguese GP Debrief: Q+A with Tohru Ubukata The third round of this season's 18-event championship took place at the Estoril Circuit in Portugal last weekend with Fiat Yamaha's Valentino Rossi scoring a second consecutive podium result on ...
Portuguese GP Debrief: Q+A with Tohru Ubukata
The third round of this season's 18-event championship took place at the Estoril Circuit in Portugal last weekend with Fiat Yamaha's Valentino Rossi scoring a second consecutive podium result on Bridgestone tyres, finishing in third place after a tough 28-lap grand prix.
Other strong performances from John Hopkins and reigning world champion Casey Stoner made it three Bridgestone-shod riders in the top six, but it was not an easy weekend for the tyre manufacturer, with uncharacteristically unsettled Portuguese weather adding to the difficulties over the three days.
All eleven Bridgestone-supported MotoGP riders stayed on for one day of intensive post-GP testing on Monday and obtained positive results from qualifying and race tyre evaluation which will now be transferred into tyre development for the next championship round, the Chinese Grand Prix, which will take place in Shanghai at the beginning of May.
Q+A with Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
Were you disappointed with the overall results from the Portugal weekend?
"I think the end results from Portugal were actually better than we expected at a circuit that has not been favourable to us in recent years. However we are not satisfied with the performance level of our tyres, especially in comparison to that of our rivals, so we must work harder. Valentino, John and Casey did a great job on Sunday to salvage some strong results from the tough weekend with Valentino taking his second consecutive podium on our tyres."
Was the weather a contributory factor?
"The weather conditions were the same for everybody, but I think when the track was dry and cool, we found it difficult to get the best out of the tyres, as grip levels were much lower. After the track had dried on Friday, the surface conditions were not very good and we could not get the required level of grip from the tyres in those conditions. The situation did improve on Saturday afternoon when the track was hotter, and a few of our riders were able to set encouraging times in the mid-high 1m37s. Only Casey and Valentino were able to set lap times under 1m38s in the race, but the leading two riders Lorenzo and Pedrosa were able to lap quicker and more consistently."
How did Bridgestone wet weather tyres perform in practice?
"We used two different specification wet weather tyres in Friday morning's practice, and also in Sunday warm -up. The results were very pleasing and riders were able to set competitive times in these damp-drying conditions. We used 'full wet' tyres to begin with, but as the conditions dried, our 'shallow wet' tyres were also used. As last year, we have developed wet tyres that work in a broader range of conditions, because we prefer not to use the so-called 'cut slick' tyres with hand-cut grooves. Cut-slicks must come from the slick tyre allocation, restricted to 40 tyres per rider per weekend this season, because the technical regulations state that wet tyres must have a land-sea ratio of at least 20%."
Were improvements found in post-race testing?
"The main purpose of Monday's test was to conduct intensive tyre testing with our teams. All GP riders stayed on and we would like to thank all our teams for their big efforts. They tried many different items and completed many laps which will be important for our next development steps. We tried mainly new rear tyres for both qualifying and race, covering new compounds and new constructions. We found these new specifications to provide better overall grip, and we now plan to introduce some of these tyres at the next race in China."