Q+A with Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle Sport Ducati's Casey Stoner took his third win in four races at the Shanghai International Circuit on Sunday to extend his championship lead to fifteen points. The victory...
Q+A with Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle Sport
Ducati's Casey Stoner took his third win in four races at the Shanghai International Circuit on Sunday to extend his championship lead to fifteen points. The victory also marked the third win on Bridgestone tyres this season with six of the last ten premier class races having been won by riders on Bridgestone tyres (Loris Capirossi in Brno and Motegi, Troy Bayliss in Valencia, Stoner in Qatar, Turkey and China). The last four victories on Bridgestone tyres have been at circuits where the tyre manufacturer has not previously been successful, showcasing the competitive advancements that Bridgestone has made in recent years.
What was Bridgestone's approach to this year's Chinese GP? "Like Turkey, the Shanghai circuit has not been a track where we have had the chance to test our new generation of tyres with the new 800cc bikes, so it was another step into the unknown. Our approach was similar to that of the Turkish Grand Prix two weeks' earlier, by using data acquired from previous MotoGP races in Shanghai combined with lessons learned with the new 800cc machines in the first races and tests of this season. Because the climate in China has typically been quite unpredictable, we opted to bring a wider range of tyre specifications to Shanghai to be prepared for any eventuality."
Did weather conditions affect the weekend preparations? "There seemed to be a permanent threat of rain all weekend, which never came during the day, so we had quite stable track conditions in all sessions. The weather itself was quite warm but overcast which left the track temperature around the 30C mark. We had wet weather tyres on standby at all times, but we never needed them and gathered a lot of useful information in free practice sessions which helped us prepare accurately for the race."
Did Bridgestone's range of tyres work well immediately from the first session? "We set a solid base from Friday practice with some riders showing good pace right away. Riders from all five of our teams were able to post encouraging times with John Hopkins leading the way for Suzuki. We evaluated a range of specifications in these first sessions and were also able to conduct a medium length run with some riders to verify the durability of the tyres. On the first day it is difficult to know what the opposition is working on, so we try not to draw too many conclusions, even if the tyres had shown a good level of initial performance."
Were you pleased with qualifying given John Hopkins's front row position? "Valentino Rossi was in a class of his own in qualifying so John's second place grid result was highly commendable. It was good to have a Bridgestone-shod rider on the front row again and to see John able to repeat his strong second place from 2006. Good laps from Casey Stoner, Marco Melandri, Randy de Puniet and Alex Barros ensured that all five Bridgestone-equipped teams were in the top eight which was very pleasing and produced our best all round qualifying performance of the season."
How much influence do you believe tyre performance had in the race itself? "I believe that tyres always play an integral role in the race result and we work hard with our teams to extract full performance and durability out of our tyres over the full race distance. Casey was again the man to beat and leads the championship after four events, but there were seven riders on Bridgestone tyres in the top nine which proves that our tyres were competitive with all four manufacturers that we are supplying this year."
Were you surprised by the race pace? "The pace of the race was exceptional and I was pleased that our tyres were able to respond to the demands that our riders required over 22 laps. For example, Casey completed ten laps in the race quicker than his previous best of the weekend on race tyres, while John managed 12 laps quicker than his best on race tyres in practice. Overall it was great to see the Ducati-Bridgestone package score another win and it was also fantastic to see John take his debut podium finish in MotoGP after another strong performance from the Suzuki team in China."