Following a sensational head-to-head battle between Bridgestone rider Loris Capirossi and his compatriot Valentino Rossi at Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix, MotoGP barely has time to exhale before this weekend's Australian Grand Prix gets underway at the renowned
Phillip Island circuit. Bridgestone Motorsport heads ‘down under' buoyed by strong performances at the last two rounds of this season's MotoGP calendar in the Czech Republic and Malaysia, where the Ducati Corse team has scored a dominant victory and a tantalisingly close second place in succession.
Bridgestone's three teams, Ducati, Kawasaki and Suzuki, have amassed two podiums and six top eight finishes between them over the last two events, a competitive streak that the team hopes will be extended this coming weekend in very different conditions. The tropical rainstorms and sweltering heat that pervaded the Malaysian GP weekend are in stark contrast to the cooler weather expected in Phillip Island. Last year's Australian GP took place in mid-October as temperatures were gradually on the increase but with this year's event some four weeks earlier, MotoGP teams, riders and tyre manufacturers could well find themselves dealing with new challenges in the form of the Antipodean winter.
Last year's race rewarded a strong performance from the Ducati team with a third place for Carlos Checa, but an accident in free practice sidelined Loris Capirossi for the duration of the event. Similarly, Kenny Roberts was unable to take part in his Suzuki, leaving four riders to fly the Bridgestone flag.
Shinya Nakano and John Hopkins both claimed top ten results in what was an encouraging weekend. Eleven months later and with valuable data from a test in February, Bridgestone is confident of continuing its most competitive season in MotoGP to date.
Hiroshi Yamada – Motorcycle Racing Manager
"Phillip Island is a traditional high-speed circuit which requires a unique and challenging approach to tyre development. The track is unlike any other venue on the calendar and, as such, we have produced special tyres which have been shipped directly from our plant in Japan to Australia. We must develop harder compound tyres to cope with the increased temperatures caused by the high-speed nature of the circuit which sees riders reach an average speed of around 175kmh over the 4.445km circuit layout."
"However, we will face some of the lowest ambient and track temperatures of the season as we head into the cooler Australian climate at this time of the year. The track reached 27°C in last year's race which took place one month later in mid-October, so we must brace ourselves for even cooler conditions in mid-September. The long, high-speed final corner is crucial to the overall lap at Phillip Island. Our tyres will need to work in unison with the bike to allow the rider to carry the speed through the corner and to build up a good rhythm and momentum coming into the next lap."
"We carried out an important test at the circuit back in February that yielded some promising results from which we have created this year's race tyre selection. Bridgestone tyres helped Ducati to third place last year with Carlos Checa, so we will be hoping to improve upon that result, particularly in light of our recent high level of competitiveness and positive podium results."