With scarcely time to regroup following the Italian GP in Mugello last weekend, the MotoGP paddock heads to Barcelona, Spain for the Catalan round of this season's championship. The Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo' on the ...
With scarcely time to regroup following the Italian GP in Mugello last weekend, the MotoGP paddock heads to Barcelona, Spain for the Catalan round of this season's championship.
The Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo' on the northern outskirts of Barcelona is one of three Spanish circuits on the calendar sandwiched between its sister tracks Jerez and Valencia which are at either end of the championship as rounds two and 18 respectively.
A popular venue for Formula 1 testing and home to last month's Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Catalan track is a popular motorsport venue whether on four wheels or two and is a circuit that Bridgestone Motorsport is well acquainted with across its range of motorsport disciplines.
MotoGP, however, has always proven to be a tough challenge for Bridgestone with riders on its tyres yet to claim a podium finish in five seasons. That particular hurdle is one that Bridgestone is keen to overcome this weekend using the positive results obtained so far in 2007 as an encouraging benchmark.
Tyre Talk with Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Sport Department
How would you rate the Catalunya circuit from Bridgestone's perspective?
"The Circuit de Catalunya has always been something of a tough track for Bridgestone. The track surface is similar to places like Shanghai and Turkey and has previously been hard on our tyres due to the smooth, slippery nature of the asphalt. The biggest issue that we have faced in previous years has been the high levels of degradation over the course of the race distance and this has been our main area of focus ahead of this season's race."
Are there specific characteristics of the circuit that are especially important?
"In addition to the general difficulties we face with the smooth asphalt, there are a lot of long corners in Catalunya, mainly on the right hand side, which naturally increases the temperature and places a lot of stress on the edge of the tyre. We have to develop harder compound tyres to cope with such levels of stress over the lap. The layout is also quite symmetrical which gives the track a distinctive appearance."
What are Bridgestone's aims for the weekend?
"We performed significantly better in Catalunya last season, but the big first lap collision took both Ducati riders out of the race and both Kawasaki riders were unable to complete the race, so our advances were not really seen. The two Suzuki riders finished in fourth and sixth with John Hopkins just missing out on a podium position, so our aim for this year's event must simply be to give our riders a tyre that is competitive and, more importantly, durable enough to challenge for podium results. The huge numbers of passionate fans in Catalunya really add to the overall ambience of the weekend and we hope to contribute positively to an entertaining race weekend for them all."
Riding Perspective with Ducati's Casey Stoner
"The Circuit de Catalunya is actually pretty hard work from a rider's perspective, not least because of the asphalt which has been a big influential factor for bike set-up since it was resurfaced a few years ago. The circuit layout itself is also challenging with some really interesting sections and some fast corners. It is a very technical circuit, so hopefully it will be a track that could suit the Ducati-Bridgestone package. The first sector is quite straight-forward and most riders and bikes are quite evenly matched through there. The next sector is quite tricky to negotiate but the last two right-handers are probably the most crucial parts of the lap to pick up the rhythm coming back onto the main straight. We have built up a very strong working relationship with Bridgestone in a short space of time and I think the benefits of this close co-operation have been seen in the race results we have achieved together so far this season."