Bridgestone MotoGP: British/Dutch GP Debrief
Thursday 5 July 2007
Q+A with Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle Sport
MotoGP concluded a second successive round of back-to-back races in the Netherlands last Saturday as the Dutch TT was contested in Assen just six days after the British GP in Donington Park. Inclement weather conditions played their part in proceedings after rain influenced the UK round before returning in time for Friday's qualifying session in the Netherlands.
Ducati's Casey Stoner triumphed in the wet-drying conditions in Donington before finishing as runner-up to Valentino Rossi in Assen to lead the championship by 21 points with half the season gone. Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen was also a star of this double-header, taking third place in Donington and pole position in Assen.
Halfway through the 2007 season, Mr. Yamada, what is your assessment of these recent two GPs?
"I think the last two races have offered everyone a big challenge with variable weather conditions throughout both weekends. We were obviously extremely pleased with Casey's victory in Donington, a circuit that has traditionally been one of our least suited tracks, and his very good second place in Assen. The fact that we are now halfway through the season with a Bridgestone-supported rider leading the championship is very satisfying indeed."
Donington race was held in wet-drying conditions and Assen qualifying was also wet, do these conditions play into Bridgestone's hands?
"The competitiveness of our riders in Donington showed that our wet weather tyres perform very well in a wide range of wet conditions from full wet to the damp-drying situation that we had during the British GP. Assen qualifying was also wet and we obtained our best ever qualifying results with the top five on the grid all on Bridgestone tyres. It is unfortunate that the wet weather is following us around this season, but I am very happy that the technical development on wet tyres has proven to be so successful. Before this year, we had never had a Bridgestone-shod winner of a wet race, but now we have two after Chris's win in Le Mans and Casey's win in Donington."
What technical areas is Bridgestone focussing at this midway point of the season?
"Assen was the first race this season that we have used our new 16'' rear tyre which is one area of technical development we continue to look at. After encouraging early tests, we brought the 16'' tyres to Donington and some of our teams had planned to use them in the race, had it been dry. For some teams, these tyres give more grip and stability, so we believe it can be a beneficial alternative at certain tracks. Other teams, however, prefer to stick to the tried and tested 16.5'' rears which have shown such good performance this season. Bridgestone's priority is to give our teams and riders the best service possible and their feedback has been instrumental in our recent development."
Reviewing the first half of the season with Stoner at the head of the championship, six wins on Bridgestone tyres in nine races and a total of 14 podiums, you must be very happy?
"Of course, I am very pleased with the results that have been achieved with our teams. This season was always going to be a big challenge for us with new tyre restrictions, new teams and riders, and a greater level of competition with the new 800cc machines, but I feel we have stepped up to a new level. We will do all we can to continue our early momentum into the second half of this season as all of our teams look to strengthen their respective championship positions."