Bridgestone Motorsport heads to the Mugello circuit for the Italian GP on the back of a trio of MotoGP wins on its tyres in recent weeks. After Casey Stoner's double victory in Turkey and China, two of Bridgestone's more difficult circuits in the...
Bridgestone Motorsport heads to the Mugello circuit for the Italian GP on the back of a trio of MotoGP wins on its tyres in recent weeks. After Casey Stoner's double victory in Turkey and China, two of Bridgestone's more difficult circuits in the past seasons, Chris Vermeulen used his wet weather tyres to good effect in Le Mans to secure his maiden premier class win and Suzuki's first on Bridgestone tyres.
While the recent successes have understandably boosted Bridgestone's morale, the tyre manufacturer is still approaching each event on a race-by-race basis with the level of competition in MotoGP more intense than ever.
The Bridgestone-shod Ducati team has traditionally excelled at their home circuit and provided the highest placed results on Bridgestone tyres in 2006. Sete Gibernau took pole, but it was team-mate Loris Capirossi who took Bridgestone race honours, converting his second place on the grid into second place in the race, just 0.5s from the winner. It was one of eight podiums and four runner-up positions of the 2006 season for the Italian rider.
Tyre Talk with Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Sport Department
What technical issues does Bridgestone have to consider for Mugello?
"Mugello is one of the longest circuits on the calendar and one of the most technically demanding. We encounter a wide range of fast and slow corners, as well as the Rettilineo straight which demands a lot from engine performance. The entire lap is completed with a very high average speed and is extremely tough on tyres. For this reason, we will be bringing medium and hard compounds to deal with the demands that the circuit will place on tyre longevity. Of particular importance are the right-handers Arrabbiata and Scarperia, as well as the medium-speed left-hand Bucine corner coming on to the main straight."
How does Bridgestone approach the Mugello and Catalunya back-to-back races?
"The European season will really gain momentum with this weekend's Italian Grand Prix in Mugello and I think the level of competition will really intensify over the coming weeks. There is not a lot of time between races and as we prepare for the Mugello race, we must also look forward to next week's Catalunya GP in Spain, the first set of back-to-back races of the year. Despite the proximity of the races, we still treat each event separately from the other because the characteristics of the Mugello circuit and the Catalunya circuit warrant a different technical approach."
Does Bridgestone's form at Mugello last year give cause for optimism?
"Our tyres were quite competitive in Mugello last year, both in qualifying and the race. The Ducatis were able to take first and second places on the grid and Loris Capirossi scored a strong second place just half-a-second from Valentino Rossi. Hopefully we can continue the run of strong results on our tyres this season after Casey Stoner's wins in Turkey and China and Chris Vermeulen's sensational win in France. However, we are not getting complacent and we remain focussed on precise preparations for each race and on continuing our tyre development during the season."
Riding Perspective with Honda Gresini's Marco Melandri
"I am very excited to be going to Mugello, my home GP, after our recent success in Le Mans. The home GP always gives a special feeling so it is going to be an enjoyable but hard weekend I am sure. Mugello is one of the most technical tracks we visit in the championship. My favourite parts are the big chicanes and the fast corners heading into the hairpin. Bridgestone has given us competitive tyres in the first five races of the season and they have seemed to perform well at Mugello in recent years, I believe, so I am sure they will do well this year with the 800cc bikes. We have been focussing a lot recently on the bike set-up and we have also worked on tyres. For Mugello, we will use the same type of tyre that we used in Le Mans, tyres that showed a good level of performance in the dry conditions, but the compounds will be adjusted to suit the technical characteristics of the Mugello track. I am looking forward to more success like we had in Le Mans at the last race, particularly in front of all the passionate Italian fans."