With strong line-up
Valentino Rossi's move to Bridgestone for 2008 was a major coup for the Japanese manufacturers and they prepare for the new season with their strongest MotoGP rider line-up to date, following their new agreement to supply Fiat Yamaha's five-time former
premier class World Champion.
However, the competition will be as fierce as ever and with Michelin set to make a renewed effort this year after what was, at times, a disappointing 2007, the ‘tyre war' is set to rage on.
Indeed the overall standard of racing in 2008 is sure to be of the highest order - of the 18 permanent 2008 MotoGP entries already confirmed, only four riders have not won at least one Grand Prix.
Bridgestone has five former World Champions on the books for this season with a total of 13 titles between them; whilst Michelin have six former champions, boasting a total of 11 crowns.
Though with Rossi and current MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner on Bridgestone rubber this year the Japanese firm will be approaching every Grand Prix feeling confident of having one of their riders on the top step of the podium.
Bridgestone's additional former champions are Ducati Marlboro's Marco Melandri (250cc title winner in 2002) and both Rizla Suzuki riders, Loris Capirossi (125cc World Champion 1990, 1991, 250cc winner in 1998) and Chris Vermeulen (2003 World Supersport Champion).
That Bridgestone will supply 11 of 18 riders thus far confirmed on the 2008 grid demonstrates rapid and consistent progress they have made over just six seasons in the premier class.
After the company's best-ever tally of 12 wins from 18 races last year, yielding a first championship win for a rider on Bridgestone tyres courtesy of the relentless Stoner, the firm from the Far East are well placed to build on that success in the forthcoming campaign.
DORNA / CAPSIS International