After a brief break, MotoGP gets back on track with the Chinese Grand Prix at the state-of-the-art Shanghai International Circuit this weekend. China is one of the newest additions to the MotoGP calendar, having made its debut as...
After a brief break, MotoGP gets back on track with the Chinese Grand Prix at the state-of-the-art Shanghai International Circuit this weekend. China is one of the newest additions to the MotoGP calendar, having made its debut as recently as 2005, and this year's event will be just the fourth MotoGP event to be held in Shanghai.
No rider has claimed more than one victory in any of the three classes in the three previous visits to China, though Casey Stoner took a 250cc win in 2005 and MotoGP honours in 2007. Stoner's win last year was the first for a rider on Bridgestone tyres in Shanghai, but Bridgestone has a reasonably strong record at the track with Kawasaki's Olivier Jacque finishing second in the wet in 2005 and John Hopkins taking fourth place for Suzuki in 2006. Hopkins also took his first ever MotoGP podium in last year's event finishing third, just six seconds behind Stoner.
After three difficult opening races to this competitive 2008 season, Bridgestone is looking to regain lost ground and a return to winning ways. Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner are the highest placed Bridgestone-shod riders in the championship, occupying third and fourth positions in the table respectively.
Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Sport Unit
"China always brings back quite good memories for us, not least because of Casey and Ducati's excellent win in Shanghai last season. We have also seen other riders take great podium results with Olivier Jacque finishing second for Kawasaki in the wet back in 2005, and John Hopkins taking his first ever podium with Suzuki last year. China is one of the few venues where we have seen podium results with three different manufacturers over the years. We hope that this year's race will see Bridgestone able to close the gap to the performance of our competitors, who have been very strong in the opening races of the season."
Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Race Tyre Development
"China is a long circuit with different technical elements to consider from a tyre perspective. It has two long straights which demand a lot not only from engine power, but also the central part of the tyre. The back straight is around 1.2km and the longest, fastest straight on the calendar. The resultant heavy braking also puts a lot of stress on the front tyre, so we usually opt for harder compound fronts to combat this. At the same time, we must give riders very good edge grip through the slower corners, especially at the start of the lap through the twisty turns 1, 2 and 3. After the race in Portugal, we conducted a very valuable tyre testing programme with all our GP riders, and we will introduce some new specification rear tyres for this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix. We found noticeable improvements to the rear grip levels, which has been one of our main focal points for development after the first races of this season. I hope this will help all our teams fight towards the front end of the field this weekend."
Casey Stoner took his third win in four races at last year's Chinese Grand Prix after an incredibly close-fought contest. From Friday's practice, it was clear the competition would be tight with just quarter of a second separating John Hopkins in first from Stoner in eighth. Marco Melandri also displayed encouraging pace, setting the second best time. Valentino Rossi took a dominant pole but several Bridgestone riders were near the front, with Hopkins excelling in second place, Stoner in fourth and Melandri in sixth. Sunday's race saw a thrilling duel between Stoner and Rossi with the former emerging victorious by three seconds. Hopkins took his first ever MotoGP podium with third place, while a further four riders took top ten results with Melandri in fifth, Chris Vermeulen seventh, Randy de Puniet eighth and Alex Hofmann in ninth.