Unsettled weather makes for tricky start in Estoril Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi was the highest placed Bridgestone-shod rider in today's free practice sessions at the Estoril Circuit. Rossi finished the day in second place just 0.040s from...
Unsettled weather makes for tricky start in Estoril
Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi was the highest placed Bridgestone-shod rider in today's free practice sessions at the Estoril Circuit. Rossi finished the day in second place just 0.040s from lead rider Dani Pedrosa, as unsettled weather conditions interrupted initial preparations for Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix.
Three further Bridgestone riders frequented the top ten in this afternoon's classification with Ducati's Casey Stoner in seventh, Honda Gresini's Shinya Nakano in eighth and Kawasaki's John Hopkins in tenth position.
The morning practice was held in damp conditions after early morning rain, but continued to dry throughout the hour, as eight Bridgestone users made the top ten using wet weather tyres. Track conditions were still tricky for riders this afternoon as they carried out an initial evaluation of the slick tyres at their disposal for Sunday's race. With limited dry practice time today, Saturday morning's hour-long session will be important for riders to hone their bike set-up and to conduct more detailed analysis of the tyre specifications.
Track temperatures were significantly lower than last year's Estoril practice, which was held in September, and lap times were accordingly slower with Pedrosa and Rossi's leading pace today six-tenths slower than last year's practice best, and a full second off 2007's fastest race lap. Estoril has been one of Bridgestone's most challenging race venues in recent years since the partial resurfacing of the track back in 2006.
Tyre Talk with Shinji Aoki - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
Did Bridgestone obtain any useful results from today's two practice sessions?
"This morning's session was held in difficult damp to drying conditions but we used the chance to assess our base wet weather tyres. Although the track was continuously drying we could see some encouraging initial results. The dry afternoon session was spent looking at different slick specifications for both front and rear, but the track was still not ideal so it made for a difficult session for the riders. We would usually run harder compounds at this track because it is quite tough on the tyres, but the cooler surface means we have used softer specs today to give the riders a better feeling from front and rear."
How does Bridgestone work with its teams to improve the grip in these conditions?
"We have looked at different tyre specs today to find the most suitable tyre but in these conditions we need more immediate grip from the tyres. Generally, if we cannot find improvements from the tyre spec itself, then the teams can make adjustments to the bike settings to try and work the tyres more. This will hopefully give the riders more feeling from the front and rear. The weather has been quite unsettled all week, but there is a chance we will see gradual improvements tomorrow and Sunday, which would be welcome."
Session 1 / Damp-Drying - Air 13C, Track 15C, Humidity 55% (taken from official MotoGP timing)
Session 2 / Dry - Air 14C, Track 22C, Humidity 49% (taken from official MotoGP timing)