Nakano Flies on Home Ground Strategies Split as Nakano Flies on Home Ground Japan Grand Prix - Free Practice Motegi, Friday 22 September 2006 -- Bridgestone Motorsport enjoyed a positive start to its home race preparations at the Twin Ring ...
Nakano Flies on Home Ground
Strategies Split as Nakano Flies on Home Ground Japan
Grand Prix - Free Practice Motegi, Friday 22 September 2006 -- Bridgestone Motorsport enjoyed a positive start to its home race preparations at the Twin Ring Motegi today with each of its teams adopting different strategies in free practice for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix. Shinya Nakano, participating in his and Kawasaki's home GP, used a late qualifying simulation to good effect to go second quickest but the Japanese rider has already completed a race distance on one of Bridgestone's selected compounds and was among the frontrunners on race tyres throughout the day.
The Ducati duo had strong pace in race trim masked by other riders' late runs. Loris Capirossi was quickest on race tyres this afternoon, some three-tenths-of-a-second faster than the rest of the field. His time of 1m47.731s represents a 0.2s increase over his race-winning best lap from last season. He and team-mate Sete Gibernau ended the day in seventh and 13th place respectively having not run on qualifying tyres.
Randy de Puniet made a late lap on qualifying tyres to secure ninth place, just a fraction behind Suzuki's John Hopkins who laid down the gauntlet in this morning's practice session by posting the quickest time. He ended the day in eighth position also on qualifying tyres. Hopkins' Australian team-mate Chris Vermeulen, fresh from his first MotoGP podium at his own home GP last weekend, made his Motegi debut today in 17th place.
There are two new additions to the MotoGP class this weekend with wildcard riders Kousuke Akiyoshi and Naoki Matsudo taking part in their home GP on Bridgestone tyres. The Japanese men acquitted themselves well on the opening day finishing 14th and 16th for Suzuki and Kawasaki. Bridgestone tyres will also be seen in the 125cc and 250cc categories this weekend as six wildcard entries compete alongside the established riders.
After the first day, 250cc riders Ryuji Yokoe, Ratthapark Wilairot and Seijin Oikawa have made their presence immediately felt with encouraging results finishing in respective eighth, tenth and 13th positions in this afternoon's qualifying practice.
Shinji Aoki -- Bridgestone Motorsport - Assistant Manager Motorcycle Race Tire Development "This afternoon's practice results will need to be treated with some care as it seems many riders used the opportunity to simulate a qualifying run in the closing stages of the session. Looking at the detailed lap times, though, it would appear that Bridgestone tyres are performing well after the first day of practice. Loris and Sete did not complete a run on qualifying tyres, so their times today are a good indication of what we can expect in dry race conditions.
"The fact that Loris was 0.3s clear for most of the afternoon shows that Ducati can be strong contenders in Motegi this weekend. Kawasaki and Suzuki have also performed well preparing for their home GP. Shinya conducted a long run in race conditions today and the tyre he used showed the required level of performance and durability. We evaluated five different compounds today and quickly found a good race rhythm in these weather conditions. Kawasaki and Suzuki also tried qualifying runs with satisfactory results. Friday afternoon has become a good time to simulate qualifying runs because conditions are more representative of those we will encounter during the actual qualifying session on Saturday afternoon. After day one, I think we are looking in good shape and can hope to perform well in our home GP on Sunday afternoon with all three of our teams."