Stoner and Hopkins lead Bridgestone's British challenge Ducati Corse's Casey Stoner will be the highest placed Bridgestone-shod rider for tomorrow afternoon's British Grand Prix after the current championship leader set his best qualifying time...
Stoner and Hopkins lead Bridgestone's British challenge
Ducati Corse's Casey Stoner will be the highest placed Bridgestone-shod rider for tomorrow afternoon's British Grand Prix after the current championship leader set his best qualifying time on Bridgestone race rubber to take fifth place on the grid.
Riders endured a tough afternoon around the 4km Donington Park track as qualifying rubber failed to give the usual comparative increase in performance over one lap. Colin Edwards' pole time of 1m28.531s represents an almost one second deficit over the pole position time from 2006. Track temperatures are somewhat cooler than last year and yesterday's washout practice sessions have reduced valuable dry running by half which means that teams and tyre manufacturers have been playing catch-up throughout today.
Suzuki's John Hopkins took sixth place to line up alongside Stoner on the second row while Kawasaki's on-form rider Randy de Puniet and the Honda Gresini duo of Marco Melandri and Toni Elias secured positions eight to ten in this afternoon's qualifying hour.
Bridgestone is able to derive a lot of encouragement from its slick race tyre performance today given the previous struggles around Donington Park, but with rain an ever-present threat, Bridgestone's five teams may still revert to the wet specification tyres from Friday practice for tomorrow afternoon's 30-lap British Grand Prix.
Tyre Talk with Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport -Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
What were the reasons for the reduced performance of the qualifying tyres this afternoon?
"The qualifying tyres did not seem to give the performance increase that we would expect over one fast lap but I believe this is a result of the conditions we faced today. The track was cooler by around 17 degrees compared to last year and did not offer substantial grip levels. Donington is a circuit that tends to 'rubber-in' over the course of a race weekend and the lack of dry weather yesterday meant that today's sessions were almost like a traditional Friday where teams need to work on dry set-up and tyre manufacturers focus on initial slick tyre evaluation. We have basically all been playing catch-up today."
What work did Bridgestone accomplish with race tyres in today's dry conditions?
"As expected with the dry conditions, we have had a lot of work to do today. We tried soft and medium compound slick tyres with some very promising results and some teams also tested our new 16'' rear tyre which showed encouraging performance with some teams and riders. Unfortunately, the two hours we are missing from yesterday meant that we were not able to carry out longer runs with our tyres so we were unable to verify the consistency of the lap times over more than one-third race distance. Nevertheless the fact that Casey was able to qualify fifth on our race tyre highlights the initial competitiveness of the race rubber in dry conditions."
Riding Perspective - Casey Stoner - Ducati Corse - 5th Place
"We are pretty safe on race tyres and looking in quite good shape. If tomorrow's warm-up is dry we will be able to make a couple of additional improvements. In qualifying though, I had some issues with the bike on my final run. I opted to do a second lap on that qualifying tyre and I was able to ride around the problem but the bike hit neutral heading into the final turn and I lost my advantage. I got a pretty good feeling with the tyres because Bridgestone actually give me feeling, so it is a bit easier to save, but the final result was very disappointing. We tried 16'' rear tyres this morning, but we are going to stick with the 16.5'' tyres we know and just make sure everything is right. I am sure we will have a good race whether wet or dry, but a dry race would probably be better."