Q+A with Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle Sport Unit Wednesday 26 September 2007 Ducati's Loris Capirossi led a 1-2-3 for Bridgestone-equipped riders in the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi last Sunday. Randy de Puniet...
Q+A with Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle Sport Unit Wednesday 26 September 2007
Ducati's Loris Capirossi led a 1-2-3 for Bridgestone-equipped riders in the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi last Sunday. Randy de Puniet took his first ever podium on Bridgestone tyres and the first for Kawasaki this season finishing the chaotic race in second place, while Toni Elias finished third for Honda Gresini, his second podium of the season. Capirossi's win marked the tenth of the 2007 season on Bridgestone tyres and the podium clean sweep took Bridgestone's podium tally to 27 this season and 51 overall.
A sixth place result for Casey Stoner was enough to secure him a debut MotoGP World Championship as he finished ahead of his nearest championship challenger, Valentino Rossi, to take his overall points total to an unbeatable 297. It is the first MotoGP championship scored on Bridgestone tyres in the company's sixth MotoGP season after 97 races.
Let's start by looking at the Japanese GP event itself, did you expect such success for Bridgestone at home?
"The Japanese GP is a home race for Bridgestone so we always set our targets very high. We have also seen riders on our tyres win in Motegi for the last three seasons with Makoto Tamada and Loris Capirossi, so there was definitely a high expectation. However, the weather conditions were extremely hot on Friday and Saturday and the competition was very close indeed. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) had dominated every session but we were still hopeful of a good result. We had expected cooler conditions for race day, but we just did not expect the rain to play such a big role."
How difficult is it for teams to select the most appropriate tyes when the weather conditions are so uncertain?
"It is very difficult in the run-up to the race when we have unsettled weather conditions. It had rained during Sunday morning warm-up but had stopped by the time that the bikes were leaving for the grid. The track was still very damp and it was clear that wet weather tyres were the only option with which to start the race. In these cases we work very closely with our teams to estimate the weather pattern for the race and to judge if a softer or harder wet tyre would be best. Ultimately it is the team's final call but we advise them every step of the way until a decision has to be made."
When the track started to dry, did all Bridgestone riders opt for full slicks?
"This was the first race where we have seen the need for riders to change bikes during the race from a wet set-up to a dry set-up machine. The majority of Bridgestone riders pitted for full slick tyres, with the exception of Akira Yanagawa who went out on 'cut-slicks', but the key to the race was the timing of the bike swap. Loris, Randy and Toni all pitted on lap 8 or 9 and were able to gain a big advantage when they went out on slicks in the near dry conditions. This enabled them to build up a big lead over the men who pitted those crucial laps later, for example Marco and Casey who had led the race early on, but pitted on lap 14 and dropped back to an eventual fifth and sixth."
What does this latest Bridgestone 1-2-3 podium sweep mean to you?
"It means a lot to get such a good result in our home grand prix, especially for Loris to take his third consecutive Motegi win on our tyres. We have worked for such a long time together with Loris, it is great to see him back on the top step in our home race. I was also pleased for the Kawasaki team and Randy for their first podium together and the first for the team this year. It means that all five of our teams and eight riders have now scored podium results on our tyres this year. After his recent injuries, it was also great to see Toni finish in third place for Honda Gresini. Of course the weather played its part and other riders suffered misfortune, but that is part of racing."
Finally, moving on to the bigger picture, Casey Stoner is now 2007 MotoGP world champion using Bridgestone tyres - has that begun to sink in yet?
"It has not really started to sink in yet. It is an amazing feeling to see a world champion on Bridgestone tyres and is really a great reward for everyone who has been involved with Bridgestone's MotoGP project over the last six years since our first year of testing in 2001. Everyone at Ducati on track and at their factory must be complimented for an outstanding season and thanks must go to Casey and Loris for their contributions. Casey has excelled in every way this year and really deserves to be champion. To see him wrap up the title in our home GP is very special for us, but now we have to look to the remaining three races of the year and try our best to add more success to the season."