Q+A with Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle Sport Bridgestone riders continued to excel in this season's MotoGP championship with Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen storming to a dominant maiden GP victory in torrential ...
Q+A with Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle Sport
Bridgestone riders continued to excel in this season's MotoGP championship with Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen storming to a dominant maiden GP victory in torrential rain conditions in Sunday's French GP at Le Mans. Using full wet Bridgestone tyres for the first time in race conditions, Honda Gresini's Marco Melandri finished a valiant runner-up to claim his first podium of the year, while Casey Stoner was able to extend his lead at the head of the riders' championship table with a fine third place. With Pramac d'Antin's Alex Hofmann hassling the front runners for fifth place, four of its teams finished in the top five to cap a strong weekend on French territory for Bridgestone.
How do you feel with the fourth win in five races on Bridgestone tyres, Mr. Yamada? "It was an exciting, but hectic GP with the rain getting heavy ten minutes into the race, and we are proud to have seen our tyres play such a vital role in the final result. It was an unusual race but I am pleased we could demonstrate a solid performance with our latest generation of wet weather tyres. It was a fantastic achievement by Chris and Marco and they thoroughly deserved their results. Half way through the race they were at least two seconds a lap quicker than everyone else which was probably the key to their results. Casey also produced a composed ride to take third and extend his championship lead, which is fantastic."
It was the first ever victory for Bridgestone in a wet MotoGP race, did the performance of the wet tyres surprise you? "We have worked a lot on our wet weather tyre development since last year and it was satisfying to see that our work has paid off. We have never won a MotoGP race in the wet before, so it was something of a landmark achievement for Bridgestone. After Chris, Marco and Casey, we also saw Alex Hofmann produce an outstanding ride to fifth while John Hopkins and Loris Capirossi also finished in the top eight, so it was a good all-round achievement."
Did you have any expectations for the race based on the performance of the tyres in dry conditions? "We started the race weekend with some uncertainty over the weather conditions but all practice sessions were held in dry conditions, so we were able to evaluate our range of tyre specifications reasonably uninterrupted. The opening practice session was quite difficult because the track was slippery and the afternoon session was cut short due to a small shower but in the end this did not impact on our work. Saturday morning enabled us to finish evaluating the soft and medium rear tyre specifications that we brought to Le Mans and the results seemed promising."
Was there a big difference in performance between the two options? "Both specifications of tyre worked well, showed good levels of grip and durability and produced good lap times. Saturday saw a big fluctuation in track temperature. According to our calculations the track temperature was 20 degrees warmer in the afternoon session compared to the morning, which resulted in quicker lap times on race tyres in the qualifying session, but both medium and soft rears still performed well. We went into Sunday confident that in our slick race tyre options whatever the conditions."
Bridgestone has worked with the Suzuki team since 2004, do you feel a sense of pride at their recent results? "Yes, this is our fourth season working with Suzuki and it has been very pleasing to see them in the middle of the action at each GP. John and Chris both got pole positions last year but this year has seen the Suzuki-Bridgestone package really step up a level and it has been great to see them get such outstanding results. John's podium in China was long overdue and Chris's win in Le Mans on Sunday was impressive. I am hopeful that our tyres can help them achieve equally competitive performances for the remainder of the season, but for now, congratulations to them for their first win since switching to our tyres."