French GP: Bridgestone preview

Bridgestone GP Briefing - Round 5: France MotoGP personnel will reconvene at the Bugatti circuit in Le Mans this weekend for the French GP, round five of this year's championship. The race will be the first of six European events in...

Bridgestone GP Briefing - Round 5: France

MotoGP personnel will reconvene at the Bugatti circuit in Le Mans this weekend for the French GP, round five of this year's championship. The race will be the first of six European events in quick succession as the series takes a whistle-stop tour of France, Italy, Spain, Britain, the Netherlands and Germany in just a two month period.

Casey Stoner took his third win of the season on Bridgestone tyres at the last race in China, while Suzuki's John Hopkins claimed a well deserved maiden podium in Shanghai to join Stoner, Ducati team-mate Loris Capirossi and Honda Gresini's Toni Elias as Bridgestone-shod podium scorers so far this season.

Loris Capirossi finished in second place in last year's French GP, while John Hopkins displayed a typically spirited ride. The Anglo-American led the early stages of the race before crashing out and set the third quickest lap of the GP.

Tyre Talk with Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Sport Department

Visions of Euro Contest

"The French GP kick-starts an intensive period of European events which will demand a lot from the teams, riders, tyre manufacturers and all the staff in MotoGP. We have six races in about two months so we have to keep well prepared ahead of each European weekend, while looking longer term at the forthcoming races. After the technical challenges of Istanbul and China, we return to a few tracks where we had good results last year. We saw positive race performances from some of our riders in Le Mans last year, but as we have seen from the opening races of this season, results from 2006 do not necessarily translate accurately to 2007."

Taking the Soft Option

"We have relatively softer specification tyres available for our teams in Le Mans. The climate condition is not expected to be as high as at recent events and the circuit layout is also made up of mainly slow corners, placing less stress on the tyre. These factors allow us to run softer compounds. Because of the stop-go nature of the track, we must consider braking stability and traction as key areas for tyre performance. In keeping with recent races, we will again bring our most recent generation of compound to Le Mans, but the compounds have been fine-tuned for the different demands of the French track."

The Weekend Ahead

"We learned a lot of important lessons from last year's French GP and were finally able to see some encouraging results from John and Loris in the race. The weather is usually unstable, so we will again have our latest specification of wet tyres on standby. Randy has his home GP, so we hope that the French fans cheer him on during the weekend. Of course it is also the home race for one of our tyre rivals, so we are sure they will be strong this weekend. We are sorry to hear that Olivier's injuries prevent him from taking part in his home race and we wish him a speedy recovery."

Riding Perspective with Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet

"Le Mans is such a special Grand Prix, not only because it is my home race, but I also had a lot of fun racing there in the past. 2006 was my first year at Le Mans with Bridgestone tyres and it surprised me how well they worked. The qualifying tyres were perfect - I got the fourth spot on the grid, which remains my best MotoGP qualifying position so far - and so were the race ones, allowing me to put in really fast and consistent lap times. This year, I arrive there quite confident after the progress that both the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR and the Bridgestone tyres showed in Istanbul and Shanghai. The first corner is perhaps the most critical point. We arrive there at 260 km/h and it is really tight. After a steep slope, the back part is quite fast but the chicane and the last corner makes the last split slow and challenging again. All these stop and goes, slopes and fast and slow parts combined makes of Le Mans a technical circuit, also for the tyre manufacturers. The Bridgestone technicians are doing a great job, bringing highly competitive tyres and giving us a lot of advice to make the right choice among them. The atmosphere at Le Mans is fantastic and, even though it could add some kind of pressure, the support of all the French is going to give me a boost."

-credit: bridgestone

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Loris Capirossi , John Hopkins , Randy de Puniet , Toni Elias