Wednesday 23 August 2006 The Czech Republic Grand Prix saw Loris Capirossi dominating the weekend on his way to scoring the Bridgestone-shod Ducati Corse team's second victory of the 2006 season. Bridgestone Motorsport's Manager Motorcycle Race...
Wednesday 23 August 2006 The Czech Republic Grand Prix saw Loris Capirossi dominating the weekend on his way to scoring the Bridgestone-shod Ducati Corse team's second victory of the 2006 season.
Bridgestone Motorsport's Manager Motorcycle Race Tire Development, Junichi Kawajiri, reviews the successful weekend from Bridgestone's perspective and its influence on September's trio of intercontinental events in Malaysia, Australia and Japan.
Were you surprised at the competitiveness of the Ducati-Bridgestone package in Brno?
"Brno has always been a favoured track for Ducati with successive top five finishes, including a close second place with Loris last year. It is also a circuit that suits Bridgestone's range of tyres with the relatively mid-high grip asphalt playing to our strengths. We were optimistic for a strong result coming into the weekend, but the dominance demonstrated by Loris in the race was beyond all our expectations."
How much of that success is attributable to the tyres?
"Results are never attributable to one factor. There can, of course, be occasions where one part of the package plays a bigger role. Brno is a technical track and that places a greater emphasis on the set-up of the bike in unison with the tyres. Consequently we had to work intensively with our three teams in each of the practice sessions to help them select a tyre that best worked with the set-up of their bikes. By Saturday, we had found one particular specification that showed a higher level of competitiveness and it was this specification that was ultimately used by all six Bridgestone riders in the race."
Did the new generation family of compounds prove successful?
"We utilised the three-week break between Laguna Seca and Brno to produce a new family of compounds as part of our preparation for the remaining races of the season. We tried these tyres in free practice on Friday to evaluate their suitability for the race and found some good immediate results, particularly with the Kawasakis. The nature of the Brno circuit, however, favoured an alternative specification, which had been developed for the Czech Republic race based on our experience and analysis of previous GPs. I think the success of this more Brno-friendly tyre in the race underlines how we are putting into practice all that we have learned over the last four seasons."
Why were the Ducatis so much more competitive than other Bridgestone-shod teams?
"I think each of our teams did a fantastic job and all three were able to finish with one bike in the top eight, which is a fine achievement. I think it is fair to say that Kawasaki has never really enjoyed this circuit, but Shinya Nakano crossed the line just a fraction behind John Hopkins' Suzuki and both were only a couple of seconds from fourth place. Ducati's approach to the weekend was to focus on long runs and bike set-up. Loris completed in excess of race distance on his chosen tyre in practice and was able to lap consistently and competitively. He was in a class of his own all weekend."
Were you disappointed to miss out on pole position in qualifying?
"Loris's qualifying time was 1.1 seconds quicker than the pole record from last year. The fact that eleven riders qualified with a quicker time than 2005 pole really shows the year-on-year improvement made by teams and tyre manufacturers. It was disappointing to miss out on pole in the closing minutes of the session, but we were confident in our race pace and durability and that's what counts."
Does the Brno win hint at a Bridgestone renaissance in the coming races?
"We certainly hope to use this win to build up momentum in the three intercontinental races in Malaysia, Australia and Japan. They are circuits where we have enjoyed previous success. We won in Malaysia and Japan last year with Loris, so we are out to defend our success there. Ducati also scored a podium in Philip Island in 2005 with Carlos Checa, but we are not getting complacent. We know the championship is tough this year and are not taking anything for granted. We have two wins this year but we want more and are working hard for them."