Bridgestone GP Briefing - Round 8: Great Britain Bridgestone Motorsport faces one of its biggest challenges of the season at Donington Park this weekend, home to the British Grand Prix, round eight of this year's MotoGP championship. Along with...
Bridgestone GP Briefing - Round 8: Great Britain
Bridgestone Motorsport faces one of its biggest challenges of the season at Donington Park this weekend, home to the British Grand Prix, round eight of this year's MotoGP championship. Along with Turkey and Portugal, the British GP was one of Bridgestone's least successful tracks last season with John Hopkins the highest ranked Bridgestone-shod rider in eighth place. With five wins on its tyres in the opening seven rounds of this year's championship, including a strong performance also at the previously awkward Catalunya circuit, Bridgestone is hopeful of a significantly improved year-on-year result in Donington. The introduction of new tyre regulations this season, coupled with the birth of the 800cc machines, has resulted in an extremely fierce competition among the three tyre manufacturers in MotoGP. Bridgestone is continuing its aggressive development programme and recently offered its teams the chance to test a new 16'' rear tyre at the post Catalunya test session. Teams will have this latest batch of tyres at their disposal this weekend, along with latest generation 16.5'' rears. The final selection of 31 tyres for each rider will be made as usual on Thursday after the customary meeting between teams, riders and their appointed Bridgestone field technician. Tyre Talk with Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Sport Department
What are the characteristics of the Donington Park circuit that are most critical for tyre manufacturers? "Like Turkey and Catalunya,Donington Park is one of the slippery circuits with smooth asphalt that has previously been a real challenge for Bridgestone. There are numerous right-hander corners which are mainly slow speed, demanding good traction grip on the right-hand side of the tyres. With only a few left-hand corners, we need to make sure that we have a good warm-up performance on the left-hand side of the tyre." Do the positive race performances in Qatar, Turkey, Catalunya indicate that Bridgestone tyres could better suit the Donington Park circuit in 2007? "We are a bit more optimistic heading into this year's British GP based on the good results we have achieved at other difficult tracks for us this year, but at the same time, we can never be complacent because asphalt characteristics differ from track to track and each circuit has its own unique demands, so we must work hard at every race weekend. The competition in MotoGP is fiercer than ever and the tyre performance in the last few races has been quite evenly matched, something that in itself we are very proud of. We have been able to raise our performance level to compete with our more experienced rivals at the front of the field which ultimately creates thrilling battles like we saw in Catalunya two weeks ago. I hope we can enjoy the same level of competition this weekend because it is great for the sport."
What tyre constructions, shapes, compounds will Bridgestone be making available for its teams? "In the post-race test in Le Mans last month, we obtained good results from evaluations of new rear shape and compound, which we will be supplying to our teams in Donington this weekend. As part of our technical development plan, we also tried 16'' rear tyres in the test after Catalunya which appear to give some of our teams better handling, stability and grip. Some teams will be trying the 16'' rears in Donington practice to see whether it could offer an advantage in the race, but tyre performance is circuit dependent, so we will have to see if the results from Catalunya test translate to Donington. This area of development is not a new concept for Bridgestone, though, since we ran 16'' rear tyres with the Kawasaki team in Mugello last year, so it is more of a natural progression with the 800cc bikes."
Riding Perspective with Suzuki's John Hopkins "From a personal point of view, Donington is one of my favourite tracks, the corners there will suit the 800cc machines and I am sure they will create a lot of possibilities for us. The 800cc bikes are so much smoother on and off the throttle I think it is going to make the racing much more fun for us riders. Also, the 800s do not appear to be so abrasive on the tyres, something that unfortunately conditioned our work at Donington last season. One of the biggest things we need to worry about at Donington is basically corner entry and mid corner speed but I think with the 800s we are going to be carrying more corner speed this year on the right hand side of the tyre especially but the engine management of the 800s is a lot better so coming out of there the bike is going to be a lot more forgiving on the tyre. The most important thing we will be looking for is tyre durability and on extracting as much edge grip as we can over the complete race distance, but the way things have been going with Bridgestone this year, I can only see good things for this race."