Estoril : Bridgestone - Day Two
Bridgestone will be represented by four riders in the top half of the grid for tomorrow's Portuguese Grand Prix, but for only the second time this season no Bridgestone-shod rider will be present on the front row as the Japanese tyre manufacturer
continues to struggle for pace at the partially resurfaced Estoril circuit.
In spite of the difficulties, Suzuki's John Hopkins claimed his best qualifying result since July's US GP by setting the sixth fastest lap of the afternoon, but was prevented from making a final assault after being held up on his last run.
His overall best time of 1m36.790s was exactly equal to that of fellow Bridgestone rider Shinya Nakano, but on count-back to the next best time of the session, as per regulation in such an eventuality, Hopkins was awarded sixth place ahead of Nakano.
The Ducati duo of Sete Gibernau and Loris Capirossi both secured top ten results in eighth and tenth respectively less than a second from Valentino Rossi's pole- setting time. Chris Vermeulen missed out on the top ten by less than two- tenths-of-a-second after a valiant late lap vaulted him up to 12th place. Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet will start the race from 16th position a further two-tenths adrift.
Bridgestone's efforts have been thwarted in each of the four sessions in preparation for tomorrow's Portuguese Grand Prix as its tyres struggle to find the grip levels required to combat the recently resurfaced Estoril asphalt.
With a warm-up session still remaining, Bridgestone will continue its meticulous data analysis work in a bid to make progress with all three of its teams ahead of tomorrow afternoon's race.
Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle Racing
“There are few positives to take away from this Portuguese Grand Prix weekend so far, but I derive some consolation from seeing each of our three teams represented in the top ten on the grid. We have been struggling to extract sufficient levels of grip from any of our tyre specifications and compounds with the track conditions we have encountered this weekend. We are still trying to ascertain what the specific cause has been and whether it is related to the improvements made to the asphalt since last year's event. We will continue to look for answers as we have tomorrow morning's warm-up session in which to work further with our three teams.”
John Hopkins – Suzuki - 6th Position
“We're struggling a bit right now with rear edge grip and we'll have to come up with something for tomorrow to improve our race performance – the boys will be working hard tonight to sort something out. I feel pretty good around here so there is no reason that we won't be able to drop the lap times in the race. As far as qualifying goes, I am very disappointed in some of the riders that chose to sit in the middle of the track, on the race line, and start arguing with each other. Because of that my lap time got screwed up and I could have got pole, or at least been on the front row. We're on the second row, so it's not too bad. We need to get a good start and do the best we can.”