The Twin Ring Motegi holds its tenth consecutive premier class motorcycle race this weekend, having made its debut on the calendar back in 1999. It is the only Japanese round of the championship and marks the home grand prix of many ...
The Twin Ring Motegi holds its tenth consecutive premier class motorcycle race this weekend, having made its debut on the calendar back in 1999. It is the only Japanese round of the championship and marks the home grand prix of many manufacturers, including tyre supplier Bridgestone, whose technical centre is situated in Kodaira on the outskirts of Tokyo.
Bridgestone has a strong history of success at Motegi with three pole positions and four consecutive wins since 2004. Makoto Tamada took the first Bridgestone-shod Motegi win in 2004 aboard his Camel Honda, while Loris Capirossi has been the man to beat for the previous three seasons. He claimed the first ever Bridgestone-shod Ducati win at Motegi in 2005, laying an important milestone in Bridgestone's MotoGP history.
Capirossi was triumphant also the following year and in 2007 he led a Bridgestone 1-2-3 in a race that saw Casey Stoner secure the first ever championship title for Ducati and Bridgestone.Heading to this year's Motegi round, Valentino Rossi is at the helm of the championship with an 87-point cushion and in with a mathematical chance of taking the title with four race weekends still in hand.
Bridgestone will bring new rear construction and compounds to Motegi, tyres that were tested with encouraging results in the post-Brno test, while harder compound front tyres will also be made available to Bridgestone's riders, to combat the stop-go nature of the Motegi circuit. Bridgestone is supplying tyres to 13 riders this weekend with the addition of Suzuki wildcard Kousuke Akiyoshi.
Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Sport Unit
"The Japanese Grand Prix is a particularly important race for Bridgestone since our head office and technical centre are both located in Tokyo, so it is very much a home event for us. We have had some great results in recent years with four consecutive victories, including three in a row with Ducati and Loris, who has established himself as a real Motegi master. I will never forget the rush of emotions that we all experienced last year when Casey took the title, and for this reason Motegi will always have a special place in our MotoGP history. This year Valentino is in a commanding lead of the championship, so he also has a chance to take the title this weekend, but we must firmly focus on the race in hand. With such a high level of competition, success will not be automatically guaranteed this weekend, but we will enter the race weekend with the usual aim of providing our teams with tyres capable of fighting at the front, with the ultimate goal of taking our fifth home win."
Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Race Tyre Development
"Motegi is a high-grip, abrasive circuit with a particularly stop-go character. There are a lot of slower turns with medium length straights interlinking them, so there is a lot of emphasis on braking stability and acceleration out of the slower corners. We will be bringing new rear construction and new rear compound tyres for Motegi based on data we obtained from the post-Brno test in August. The results from this test were quite promising and the new tyres have been designed to give better edge grip, which will be beneficial to riders through these slower-speed corners. The stop-go nature of the course also demands a lot from the front tyre, so we have had to prepare harder compound front tyres for this purpose."
Casey Stoner took the 2007 MotoGP world championship at last year's Japanese GP, although the Australian finished in just sixth position in the race. The event was won by his team-mate Loris Capirossi in difficult wet conditions, leading a Bridgestone 1-2-3 ahead of Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki) and Toni Elias (Honda Gresini). Honda's Dani Pedrosa dominated in dry conditions in practice and qualifying with De Puniet the top Bridgestone rider on Friday and Saturday.