“We will approach it with the usual determination”
It has been just over half a year since the Estoril circuit last played host to a MotoGP world championship event but significant improvements in bike, tyre and riding performances over the winter will make for an even more
competitive Portuguese GP this weekend.
Anticipating the race to April gives Estoril a spring-time calendar slot for only the second time since its first MotoGP race back in 2000, the last occasion being back in 2005. This year's event will be the ninth Portuguese GP, a race weekend that has traditionally not been easy for Bridgestone, although Makoto Tamada took pole position and scored a podium finish in 2004, which marked the first European podium result for a rider using Bridgestone tyres.
Improvements were also seen in last year's race with Ducati champion-in-waiting Casey Stoner taking a well deserved third place, crossing the line just 1.5s from the race-winner. Fellow Bridgestone users Marco Melandri and John Hopkins also took impressive top six results in 2007 for their respective Honda Gresini and Suzuki teams.
Estoril is one of the most technically demanding circuits on the calendar, putting all aspects of the bike-tyre-rider package to the test. At this earlier time of the year, the weather could also play a contributory role with conditions likely to be cooler and more unsettled than last season.
Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport – Manager, Motorcycle Sport Unit
“It has been an exciting start to the season and the pace of competition is at an extremely high level. With Casey winning in Qatar and Valentino second in Jerez, we have seen some encouraging results so far this year at difficult circuits for us. Estoril has been also been a generally difficult race venue for us in the past, although we have also enjoyed a few successes there over the years with Tamada's pole and podium in 2004 and, more recently, Casey and Ducati's third place last season. We have never seen a rider on Bridgestone tyres take victory in Estoril, and this is something that we are working hard to resolve. It is going to be another tough weekend, but we will approach it with the usual determination.
Tohru Ubukata – Bridgestone Motorsport – Manager, Race Tyre Development
“The Estoril circuit is technically demanding and has a very eclectic character with slow, medium and fast corners, a long 1km straight, a chicane and a disproportionate number of left and right-hand turns, nine right and four left. The track was partially resurfaced in 2006 and is not consistently the same type of asphalt over the entire lap. All of this combines to make life tough on tyres and for this reason we tend to prefer harder compound rear tyres. The competition is really intense in MotoGP at the moment, and even slight advantages in the overall package can make a big difference, so we continue to work closely with our six teams to give them that valuable extra grip in qualifying and race.”