Spanish GP Debrief: Q+A with Tohru Ubukata The second race of the 2008 MotoGP world championship took place in front of a rapturous 130,000 strong Spanish crowd at the Circuito de Jerez last week. Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi ...
Spanish GP Debrief: Q+A with Tohru Ubukata
The second race of the 2008 MotoGP world championship took place in front of a rapturous 130,000 strong Spanish crowd at the Circuito de Jerez last week. Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi scored his first ever podium using Bridgestone tyres with a competitive second place, trailing race winner Dani Pedrosa by just 2.8s and clear of his third-placed team-mate Jorge Lorenzo by 1.5s.
A further three Bridgestone-equipped riders finished in the top ten with Loris Capirossi superbly guiding his Suzuki to fifth place, John Hopkins in seventh for Kawasaki and Shinya Nakano in ninth for Honda Gresini.
Most riders stayed on in Jerez for a post-race test session on Monday with Suzuki and Kawasaki also spending an extra day at the track on Tuesday. As Bridgestone spent time evaluating rear race rubber, as well as new qualifying tyres, there were encouraging performances as Bridgestone prepares to tackle another of its more traditionally challenging circuits in Estoril, Portugal next week.
Q+A with Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
Were you satisfied with the outcome of Sunday's Spanish GP in Jerez?
"I have to admit that the end result on Sunday was somewhat better than our expectations based on the practice and qualifying results. Four of our teams were able to get top ten results in the race, while Valentino and Yamaha could take their first podium using our tyres. Considering we did not have a rider on the podium in 2007, it was one of our pre-race aims to see a Bridgestone-shod rider in the top three. Jerez is a very competitive circuit because it is so well known from testing and our rivals are always strong here, so I am generally pleased with the outcome."
How did the race tyres perform over the course of the weekend?
"After the IRTA test in February, we developed new specification tyres, which performed reasonably well. The competition level is so high, as we saw from the record-breaking race pace, so we are always in search of more grip, especially at the rear. The race was run a full 18 seconds quicker than last year, which underlines the level of competition we are facing this season, and shows that we need to remain on top our game at all times." Did Bridgestone's latest generation qualifying tyres perform as expected? "Yes, I was quite encouraged by the performance of the qualifying tyres even if the grid positions and gap to the pole man shows that we still have important work to carry out in this area. The targets are always moving because as we try to close the gap to our rivals in qualifying, they are also further improving. Nevertheless, I feel that we are heading in a good direction."
What work did Bridgestone carry out in the post-race test session?
"I think our teams were pleased with the tyre testing that we carried out after the race.We focussed mainly on new rear race specs with new compounds and new constructions. The results seemed quite promising for the coming races. Our work on qualifying tyres also continues; we tried a new rear qualifying spec which showed a good direction to give our riders better grip over a qualifying lap. Hopefully, we will be able to see another good step ahead in both race and qualifying tyre performance in Estoril next week."