Portuguese GP: Bridgestone preview

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium Rear: Medium, Hard (asymmetric) Estoril is one of the most technically demanding races on the calendar and one of toughest challenges of the season for Bridgestone's tyres. The very...

Bridgestone slick compounds available:
Front: Soft, Medium
Rear: Medium, Hard (asymmetric)

Estoril is one of the most technically demanding races on the calendar and one of toughest challenges of the season for Bridgestone's tyres. The very varied nature of the circuit will provide a stern test of the wider operating range of this year's tyres as they are faced with a multitude of different corner characteristics, corner loads and surfaces.

The circuit's four left- and nine right-handed corners mean that Bridgestone has selected asymmetric rear tyres for Estoril in order to compensate for the resulting difference in tyre temperature between the right and left shoulders. The temperature differential between the shoulders is more marked at this track as the right-handers are generally fast but the left-handers generally slow, including the chicane which is the slowest corner on the calendar.

The main challenge of the circuit comes from the number of different conditions a tyre has to cope with during a lap whilst providing a consistent feeling for the riders throughout. Estoril has a long and fast straight with heavy braking for the first corner, an imbalance between lefts and rights, a very slow chicane and the long final corner in which the tyres have to contend with high lean angles at a high speed as the riders try to open the throttle as soon as possible to maximise their speed across the start/finish line.

This year's Portuguese Grand Prix is the tenth to be held at the Estoril circuit and there have been four different winners at the venue in as many years, though it is the only GP run this season at which a Bridgestone-shod rider has never claimed victory in the premier class. Makoto Tamada took pole and finished second in 2004, and more recently Casey Stoner qualified second and finished third in 2007 and Valentino Rossi qualified and finished third last year.

Whilst it is a foregone conclusion this season, the first win by a Bridgestone-shod rider at Estoril will be another circuit ticked for Bridgestone, and also the 49th premier class victory on Bridgestone tyres since the company's entry into the sport in 2002.

The Portuguese Grand Prix has been moved back to the second half of the season after being run in April last year. It comes after a three-week break following the cancellation of the Hungarian round at the Balatonring venue.

Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department

"In effect we have now had two breaks this season, and this one was longer than we had in August so I am sure that everyone is looking forward to going racing again and seeing the conclusion of this exciting season. With the expected return of Casey to the championship, I'm sure we will continue to see the sort of close competition and thrilling races we have gotten used to in this first year of single tyre supply in MotoGP."

Tohru Ubukata - Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department

"Estoril is one of the toughest tracks on the calendar and has a challenging mixture of slow-speed lefts, high-speed rights and interlinking straights that test all aspects of the rider, machine and tyre package. The circuit has a very varied nature throughout each lap which is what makes it challenging, but I am confident that the wider operating range of this year's tyres will give us a significant advantage this season compared to those previously.

"The nature of the track changes from one corner to the next, and the tyres also have to contend with a surface change during the lap after partial resurfacing work conducted in 2006. Again we see some heavy braking points at Estoril, such as into the first corner, so stability from the front tyre is crucial. The use of asymmetric rear tyres is also very important here, mainly to ensure good and consistent grip round the slower left-handers such as the chicane where the riders are accelerating hard on corner exit."

-credit: bridgestone

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Valentino Rossi , Makoto Tamada , Casey Stoner