“It was the overall package that took the championship”
One of the intriguing stories of the 2007 season was the so-called ‘tyre war' between Bridgestone and Michelin in the premier class, with the Japanese firm's MotoGP project finally reaching full fruition as they got
the better of their French rivals for the first time since arriving at the pinnacle of the World Championship in 2002.
The year was an unprecedented success for Bridgestone, as they scored 12 race wins, Ducati Marlboro's Casey Stoner took the World title on Bridgestone tyres and the season ended with the recruitment of five-time former MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi.
However, there was of course a tremendous amount of hard work that went into creating that remarkable success story.
At the start of the 2007 MotoGP season there were plenty of new challenges for Bridgestone, entering into just their sixth season at the top table. Changes to MotoGP's technical regulations introduced a reduction in engine capacity from 990cc to 800cc, meaning further emphasis on tyre cornering performance, while teams were required to choose from an allocation of just 31 tyres – 14 fronts and 17 rears – for each rider at each GP.
Meanwhile Bridgestone were also supplying two additional teams in 2007, with Honda Gresini and Pramac d'Antin joining Suzuki, Kawasaki and Ducati in the Japanese company's portfolio.
The Asian manufacturer rose to the challenges superbly and from this roster of five Bridgestone-shod teams and 21 Bridgestone-supplied riders there were the aforementioned 12 race wins, plus 33 podiums, six pole positions and 11 fastest laps in 18 races.
Three Bridgestone riders tasted victory – Stoner and Ducati team-mate Loris Capirossi, in addition to Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen – whilst eight different Bridgestone men stepped onto the podium.
Looking back on the season as a whole, Bridgestone's Motorcycle Sport Manager Hiroshi Yamada noted that Stoner's run to glory was aided by improved tyres, but fully acknowledged the role of the rider and his team in adding to Bridgestone's brilliant year by putting in consistently high performances and producing a winning package on a race-to-race basis.
“In the past, our tyres have been competitive at some tracks, but we've lacked consistency during the season”, comments Yamada. “The improved performance of our tyres has played an important part this year, but it was the overall package that took the championship – above all, the supreme skills of Casey Stoner. He won 10 races from 18 this year and we cannot say that that was just because of the bike or the tyres. It's simply because he's the rider to beat.”
DORNA / CAPSIS International