Q+A with Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle Sport Sunday 25 February 2007 This weekend's three-day MotoGP session at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain provided the final opportunity to test before the season ...
Q+A with Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle
Sunday 25 February 2007
This weekend's three-day MotoGP session at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain provided the final opportunity to test before the season gets underway in earnest in Qatar in a fortnight. While work centred on general tyre development and more specific preparations for the Jerez GP in late March, Sunday afternoon's forty minute official session highlighted some important areas for improvement in qualifying tyre performance.
What was the test programme for this final pre-season test in Jerez? "Over the winter we have been working intensively on developing our tyres to best meet the requirements of the 800c machines. This week's Jerez test has been used to carry out final evaluations of our 800cc-specification tyre. Naturally, we have also used the opportunity to test some new compounds in preparation for the Jerez GP in late March."
To what extent have tyres already been adapted to individual team and rider needs? "I think we have already started in a positive way to adapt our tyres to meet the demands of each bike and rider. Toni Elias, for example, has a unique riding style in that he relies a lot more on the front, so we developed a softer rear construction for him to try this week. His feedback has been initially positive and lap times seem to verify that we have found the right direction for him."
How much did the weather affect the overall results from the week? "Between the rain and the fog, the weather has played a big part this week. At Jerez, the track takes a long time to dry out fully after a rain shower. That wasted a lot of time on Friday, while the early morning fog on Saturday and again on Sunday rendered the morning session worthless. We have not covered the entire test programme, but we have still seen some positive and negative results which will help us move forward."
Do the results of the forty-minute official practice session indicate that Bridgestone needs to work on its qualifying tyres?
"Based on the results we have witnessed this afternoon, it would appear that we have lost some of the qualifying advantage that we enjoyed last season. Although there were some strong performances from Randy, Chris, Casey and Loris, the leading two riders, Rossi and Pedrosa, both set exceptionally quick times. It is not evident how much of their advantage is down to the machine, the tyre, or the rider, but tyres play an integral role in the overall package, so clearly we have a lot of work to do in this area."
What importance will qualifying hold in races? Will there be any effect on the qualifying tyres given the new restrictions?
"Even if front row starts are a major help, good qualifying results alone do not win races, so the priority will always be on the race tyres. Ultimately, it will be the teams' decision which 31 tyres to choose for the weekend based on advice supplied by Bridgestone. However, I think it safe to assume that teams will always select several qualifiers per weekend to get as high up the grid as possible."
How has Bridgestone planned for the introduction of the new tyre restrictions?
"We have worked closely with FIM since the Qatar test to implement the new marking system for the new tyre rules this season. Once our teams have finalised the 31 tyres that each rider will use over the weekend, Bridgestone will scan all tyres into a handheld machine and compile a list of this information for FIM. This process must be done on the installation day of the GP weekend and is done using a barcode that has been cured onto each tyre at the factory. Each time the rider leaves the box, the tyre must again be scanned to register its use. No tyre that has not been barcoded and logged will be permitted for use. On the final day of the Jerez test, we conducted a simulation of this process together with FIM, which worked very well, so I think we are well prepared for its formal implementation in Qatar."
What is the next stage of tyre development before the season gets underway in Qatar?
"We have finalised most tyres for Qatar, but some information has been gathered from Jerez that will be used to finalise the remaining specifications. I expect production of all Qatar tyres to be completed by the middle of next week at the latest before being packed and flown to Doha."