Q+A with Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle Sport The latest run of back-to-back MotoGP races concluded just over a week ago in California with a dominant victory by championship leading Ducati rider Casey Stoner in the...
Q+A with Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle Sport
The latest run of back-to-back MotoGP races concluded just over a week ago in California with a dominant victory by championship leading Ducati rider Casey Stoner in the United States GP. Stoner now leads the riders' table by 44 points over nearest rival Valentino Rossi.
Bridgestone-shod riders locked out the top three positions with Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen taking second position, his third podium of the season, and Honda Gresini's Marco Melandri scoring an heroic third place. Both riders have cemented top five positions in the championship equal on 113 points.
Stoner's team-mate Loris Capirossi took top Bridgestone honours at the preceding event in Germany making a spectacular return to the podium with an excellent second place behind eventual winner Dani Pedrosa.
Mr. Yamada, what is your assessment of the German and US GPs from Bridgestone's perspective?
"These last two race weekends in Germany and USA have certainly been met with contrasting fortunes by Bridgestone. We had some difficulties at the newly resurfaced Sachsenring two weeks ago, but Loris did a great job to get second place, which was definitely a consolation for us. Our tyres performed extremely well around Laguna Seca and Casey's victory represented the first time that a rider on our tyres has finished on the podium at that circuit, let alone taken the win. The fact that Chris and Marco also achieved great podium results really underlined our performance level. Overall it has been like a game of two halves for us with important lessons learned from both weekends."
Did the German GP performance cause concern for you with the US race taking place just days later?
"We were certainly not satisfied with the performance of the tyres in Sachsenring but Loris's second place shows that our tyres can still help the riders achieve good results even if conditions are not ideal. I always prefer to be cautious when approaching each weekend because every track offers different challenges. There are many variables that could affect tyre performance and the new tyre regulations leave little room for error, which is an exciting challenge for our technicians. The competitiveness of our tyres in Laguna Seca proves that our approach to the weekend was correct and our tyres were able to help our riders to secure the top three spots on the podium and other strong points-scoring results."
Were you pleased with the performance of the qualifying tyres in Laguna Seca?
"The qualifying results were pleasing with Casey on pole and Chris also on the front row in third place. The interesting part was that the qualifying tyres did not give a large increase in performance compared to the race tyres. Chris, for example, set his fastest lap of the session on race tyres and still he was able to claim a front row position. In fact, such was the competitive nature of the race tyres that Casey set the fastest lap of the entire weekend in the high 1m21s on race tyres during Sunday morning's warm-up session, some three-tenths quicker than his pole time. It was also a great relief to see Casey break the so-called pole jinx that has been a prominent part of this season."
Much has been said about the tyre war this season, what do you think about the increasingly important role that tyres and the new restrictions play in MotoGP races?
"Tyres have always played a vital role in motorcycle racing as it is the sole component of a motorcycle which directly transfers the bike's energy through to the track surface. The so called "tyre war" is a welcome situation for us as we are able to showcase our technical abilities in a competitive environment against other tyre manufacturers. The new tyre restrictions were developed based on joint discussions with all three tyre manufacturers involved in MotoGP. After eleven races, we are still supportive of the regulations and I think they have promoted a more even playing field and a greater competition among the tyre manufacturers and teams. From Bridgestone's point of view, the new restrictions add an extra dimension to our approach which is as interesting for the fans and spectators as it is challenging for tyre manufacturers, teams and riders."