2007 finale gets underway with unstoppable Stoner on top in Valencia The final race weekend of this year's MotoGP world championship got underway in earnest at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia today with 2007 world champion Casey Stoner in...
2007 finale gets underway with unstoppable Stoner on top in Valencia
The final race weekend of this year's MotoGP world championship got underway in earnest at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia today with 2007 world champion Casey Stoner in his customary position at the top of the classification.
Stoner's best lap, 1m32.968s, made him the only man to beat the 1m33s mark during the day with a time just 0.044s adrift of last year's best race lap set by Loris Capirossi in the final ever race with 990cc machinery in which the Bridgestone-equipped Ducati Corse team took a spectacular 1-2 result.
All five of Bridgestone's teams enjoyed representation in the top seven of the combined practice times today with Honda Gresini rider Marco Melandri leading a quartet of Bridgestone-shod riders in fourth behind Sylvain Guintoli and Dani Pedrosa who made up the top three.
Rounding out the top five, Chris Vermeulen made a solid start to the Valencian weekend in fifth, ahead of Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet and Pramac d'Antin's Alex Barros. John Hopkins also set a top ten time as he embarks on his final race weekend for the Suzuki team.
While Casey Stoner aims for the eleventh race victory of his dominant championship-winning season, Melandri, Hopkins and Vermeulen are embroiled in their own battle for fourth in the classification, the three of them just five points apart heading into this weekend's race.
Tyre Talk with Junichi Kawajiri - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
Did Bridgestone encounter any problems during today's two sessions?
"The basic problem that everyone experienced today was a lack of grip. It is the first day of practice and the track temperatures were quite cool, particularly in the morning, so we expect the track conditions to improve for the rest of the weekend. We conducted a general compound test to look at the performance of the tyres around this track and, from the time sheets it looks like we are in good shape. We have to look at the grip levels over the 30 lap race distance and to find that crucial balance between grip and durability."
Can Bridgestone draw any conclusions from this first day?
"It is always difficult to draw any finite conclusions after the first day, even if our performance today has been encouraging. Most riders used only one rear tyre in this morning's practice, putting more than half a race distance on the same tyre with no obvious drop in performance. In fact a lot of riders set the quickest times of the morning session near to the end of the hour, but that can also be attributed to the improving track. We will have to do consecutive longer runs tomorrow to really understand the competitiveness of the tyres. Valencia is quite a technical track for the bikes so getting the entire package to work in harmony is especially important here. With all five of our teams in the top part of the classification, we have reason to be optimistic."
AM Session / Dry - Air 17C, Track 18C, Humidity 49% (taken from official MotoGP timing)
PM Session / Dry - Air 22C, Track 30C, Humidity 42% (taken from official MotoGP timing)