The longest MotoGP championship in history comes to an end this weekend as the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Cheste plays host to the Community of Valencia GP, round 18 of the 2007 season. Valencia will mark the one hundredth MotoGP...
The longest MotoGP championship in history comes to an end this weekend as the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Cheste plays host to the Community of Valencia GP, round 18 of the 2007 season. Valencia will mark the one hundredth MotoGP race participation for Bridgestone since their debut in Suzuka 2002. In that time, riders on Bridgestone tyres have accumulated 20 race victories, 20 pole positions, a total of 55 podium finishes and, courtesy of Casey Stoner and Ducati Corse, the first MotoGP world championship title on Bridgestone tyres.
Valencia, like the previous race in Sepang, made its debut on the premier class calendar at the end of the last Millennium when Frenchman Regis Laconi took his only premier class victory from pole position. In total, there have been seven different winners of the Valencia event in just eight premier class GPs to have been held at the circuit up to and including last year's surprise dominant winner, Troy Bayliss, aboard a Bridgestone-shod Ducati.
The Ricardo Tormo track acts as the perfect racing stage for the many thousands of fans who flock to Valencia for the now traditional season finale. Last year, 130,000 spectators adorned the grandstands to watch Ducati take a debut 1-2 on Bridgestone tyres as Loris Capirossi took the runner up spot to claim third place in the championship.
This year's championship titles have all been decided after a dominant season by Casey Stoner and the Ducati Corse team which saw the Australian wrap up the riders' title back at the Japanese GP last month. However, the competitive scrap between Bridgestone-shod riders for fourth place in the championship will reach a thrilling end in Valencia. Marco Melandri in fourth is a solitary point ahead of John Hopkins in fifth, who is in turn just four points ahead of team-mate Chris Vermeulen in sixth. Loris Capirossi also has an outside chance but is 14 points further back in seventh place.
Tyre Talk with Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Sport Unit
Is Valencia a tough track for tyres?
"Valencia is one of the shortest circuits of the year, but nevertheless technically quite complex with a notable disparity of corners, nine left and five right. It is a slow, twisty and technical circuit that also demands a lot from the MotoGP machines as well as the tyres. We must look at the performance and durability on the left hand side of the tyre because of the asymmetric circuit layout, as well as making sure that we have good warm-up performance on the right."
Has the circuit been favourable for Bridgestone?
"Valencia was one of our highlights last season with Ducati taking the first ever 1-2 result on our tyres with Troy Bayliss taking victory ahead of Loris, a result that took everyone a bit by surprise. It was an impressive performance. That win was the fourth of the season on Bridgestone tyres in our fifth year of MotoGP involvement. This weekend in Valencia, we celebrate our 100th MotoGP participation since our first race back at Suzuka in Japan 2002."
How important is this milestone for Bridgestone?
"It is an important milestone for us, but it is made even more special by the fact that we have been able to celebrate the championship this season with Casey and Ducati. Over the 99 races to date, we have seen some great results, not least the first podium in Rio in 2003 and debut win at the same track one year later, both thanks to Makoto Tamada. The first wins with Ducati and Loris in 2005 were very memorable and, of course, this year's championship with Casey. I hope we can commemorate our century with yet more highlights with our five teams this coming weekend."
Riding Perspective with Chaz Davies (Pramac d'Antin)
"From what I know from my experience in the 250cc class, Valencia is a very technical circuit. It is a good track and one at which I had my best 250cc result, a fifth place back in 2004. Everything should be the same as far as the surface goes this weekend, but it has never been hugely abrasive on tyres round there. The grip level is so-so, depending on the heat, but we are now heading into November, so it will certainly be cooling down. The most important job is going to be getting the bike to handle correctly because it is quite twisty in the infield. It is all about chassis performance through there, especially on a MotoGP bike, there is no place to really wind it up. From a tyre point of view, my first MotoGP race at Laguna Seca was quite easy, which I appreciate in hindsight, because of the amount of grip we had there, I think the balance of the chassis and tyres was working awesome there. In Phillip Island, things were a little bit more difficult just to find the rear grip, but not every track is going to be the same, so hopefully this weekend we can make another step forward."