Six Bridgestone-shod riders ended this afternoon's Qatar qualifying session in the top ten. All four manufacturers on Bridgestone tyres will be represented by at least one of its bikes in the top eight on tomorrow afternoon's grid. Ducati's...
Six Bridgestone-shod riders ended this afternoon's Qatar qualifying session in the top ten. All four manufacturers on Bridgestone tyres will be represented by at least one of its bikes in the top eight on tomorrow afternoon's grid.
Ducati's Casey Stoner nearly pulled off a remarkable repeat performance of his Qatar pole position from 2006, finishing in the runner up spot for the 2007 GP, a mere 0.005s from pole sitter Valentino Rossi. Stoner's ultimate time of 1m55.007s marked a 0.6s improvement over his previous pole record.
Toni Elias was the highest placed Honda rider in a sensational fourth place. His team-mate Marco Melandri ended his qualifying session in tenth place, but both can draw confidence from encouraging pace on race tyres in free practice. Melandri posted a best time of 1m56.529s in his earlier run on race tyres.
Other performances of note from Suzuki's John Hopkins in sixth, Ducati's Loris Capirossi in seventh and Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet in eighth underline the improved competitiveness of the Bridgestone qualifying tyres at the Losail International Circuit, a direct result of data acquired from February's test. Consistently quick times in long run simulations during this morning's free practice session leave Bridgestone riders in good shape ahead of tomorrow's 22-lap GP, where the Japanese tyre manufacturer will be looking to capitalise on its hard work over the winter.
Tyre Talk with Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
Were you pleased with the performance of the Bridgestone qualifying tyres in today's session?
"Yes, we were very happy with the performance of our tyres today, both race specification and qualifiers. Over the winter we developed a specific plan to improve the competitiveness of our qualifying tyres and today's results would indicate that our general direction was correct. We used the results of the Qatar and Jerez test to make the most recent steps ahead in this area and the fact that we have four manufacturers on Bridgestone tyres in the top eight of the Qatar grid is very satisfying. Our work is ongoing though and we plan race-by-race developments."
What conclusions have been drawn by the long run simulations today?
"This morning, each of our teams conducted important work on the preferred tyre specification from yesterday's sessions. The lap times were much quicker than those seen in the Qatar test, which demonstrates how far we have come in just a few weeks. We have seen competitive and consistent lap times today. Casey's long run was particularly impressive, posting times in the high 1m56s over a 19 lap run, proving that he can challenge at the front tomorrow afternoon."
Riding Perspective - Casey Stoner - Ducati - 2nd Place
"The whole day has been quite good, we had a real good qualifying session and I managed to do a good lap time. This morning we did a really good race run, doing some consistent fast times. We seem to have been pretty competitive the whole weekend, in the top three, so I'm really happy. I'm really confident with the tyres and the team and the whole bike, so I think we can have a good result here."