Bridgestone working hard to make it two victories in a row
MotoGP heads into an intense run of three intercontinental events this weekend as the Sepang International Circuit plays host to the eighth Malaysian motorcycle Grand Prix since the circuit's inception back in 1999.
event will be followed by the Australian and Japanese rounds on successive weekends, the results of which should set the stage for an enthralling season finale in October. Ducati rider Loris Capirossi laid down his own claim to the championship after a dominant victory on Bridgestone tyres at the last GP in Brno reduced his gap to the championship leader to 50 points with a maximum 125 still up for grabs.
Capirossi and the Ducati Corse team, who last week announced an extension to their contract into the 2007 season, won in Malaysia last season and will undoubtedly be further buoyed by their performance in the Czech Republic a fortnight ago as they seek a repeat performance this weekend.
The Brno win now means that Bridgestone-shod riders have won two GPs in each season since 2004. Now in just their fifth year of MotoGP racing, the Bridgestone crew will be looking to secure their third victory of the season in Sepang to cement 2006 as their most competitive yet. A second consecutive victory would also score the tyre manufacturer a 20th podium result in its comparatively short history at the pinnacle of motorcycle racing.
Bridgestone was back in action directly after the Brno race for an intensive test session at the Czech track in preparation for the remaining events of the season. As a result, the team head to Sepang with a range of new compounds and tyre specifications at their disposal in order to combat the traditional Malaysian heat and humidity. At 5.548km in length, a lap of Sepang is the longest on the 2006 calendar with its two main straights each at almost 1km placing an emphasis on outright power at the start and end of each of the 21 laps making up the race.
Capirossi's pole time from 2005 sets the qualifying bar at 2m01.
731s, but with the technological developments made year-on-year, Bridgestone riders could well be targeting times closer to the 2m mark to secure positions at the sharp end of the grid in Saturday afternoon's qualifying session.
"The performance of Loris Capirossi and the Ducati Corse team in Brno was a great result for Bridgestone and leaves us motivated and optimistic for the forthcoming races in Malaysia, Australia and Japan. We scored one of our two victories last year in Malaysia and I hope that we can replicate that performance this weekend to challenge for our third victory this season. We conducted an intensive test at Brno after the race in order to test a wide range of new specification tyres, new shapes and compounds. We were able to derive some encouraging results for the five remaining rounds of this season, as well as gaining some useful information from the 800cc bikes as part of our development for next year. Looking specifically to Malaysia, we will encounter one of the hottest races on the calendar."
"It is unlikely we will endure the extreme heat we had at Laguna Seca in July, but we have certainly drawn from that experience in anticipation of the hot conditions that are guaranteed in Sepang. The humidity in Malaysia also brings the constant threat of thunderstorms and heavy tropical rain, so we will have a range of wet weather tyres close to hand. Whatever the weather, we are working hard with all three of our teams to make it two Bridgestone-shod victories in a row."