Estoril : Bridgestone - Day One
Bridgestone encountered a difficult opening day of preparation for this weekend's Portuguese Grand Prix with Sete Gibernau the highest placed of the six Bridgestone-shod riders in seventh place.
Gibernau's best lap of 1m38.815s led
a trio of Bridgestone riders in the top ten with Suzuki's John Hopkins in ninth spot (1m39.007s) and Kawasaki's Shinya Nakano in tenth place (1m39.161s), ensuring a full representation of Bridgestone teams in the top half of the field.
Loris Capirossi's morning practice time of 1m39.637s was his quickest lap of the day and placed him 12th in today's combined free practice standings. Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen improved on his morning time by almost two seconds to go 13th fastest on his first trip to Estoril, just a fraction ahead of Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet in 14th.
Bridgestone approached today's practice sessions with the usual target of ascertaining the performance of a selection of tyres from its range as each of its teams concurrently strived to fine-tune the set-up of their bikes around the technical Estoril track.
Although the specifications evaluated today did not prove as competitive as desired, Bridgestone has additional tyres to assess in tomorrow's two sessions as foundations are strengthened for Sunday afternoon's Portuguese Grand Prix.
Shinji Aoki Bridgestone Motorsport - Assistant Manager Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
It was not such a straight-forward day for us today. The purpose of having these two practice sessions on Friday is to find the best direction for the remainder of the weekend.
With each of our teams, we have tested some of our Estoril range and the results would indicate that there is more work to do tomorrow. The circuit has recently been resurfaced in places and it was also quite dusty early on which made the morning session quite inconclusive. This afternoon, we just kept focussed and continued with our initial plan, knowing that we have additional tyres to try out on Saturday. Estoril is a technical circuit, so our teams also have important work on tuning their bike settings, of course together with the tyres. We will continue to work on all of these things tomorrow morning and only then will we have a real indication of our potential in race trim.