Bridgestone Sepang test debrief
The first test of the 2007 season concluded at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia this week with several Bridgestone-shod riders frequenting the top half of the timesheets throughout the three-day session.
Manager of Motorcycle Racing, Hiroshi Yamada, reviews the opening week of Bridgestone's sixth year of participation in MotoGP and looks ahead to the coming season with cautious optimism.
Was it good to be back in action at Sepang this week ?
“It was great to be back at the race track after seven weeks away but development work has been ongoing since the last test of 2006. Our engineers have spent the winter break analysing the data we collected in November tests in order to finalise the direction for tyre development this season.”
What was Bridgestone's programme for this opening week of testing in Malaysia?
“Using the data from the post-season tests last year, we developed a range of new constructions, shapes and compounds which we tested with each of our five teams in Sepang this week. We took a total of 1,200 tyres – including new rears, new fronts and new qualifiers - to test with a total of 12 riders. In addition to the GP riders, we also worked extensively with test riders Shinichi Ito and Nobu Aoki. We were able to get through the bulk of our test programme and our teams provided us with a lot of valuable data with which we can further develop the tyres.”
Is the testing programme different because of the introduction of 800cc bikes?
“We have developed the tyres to work with the characteristics of the new 800cc, most importantly to cope with the higher cornering speeds. However, the test programme is no more extensive than it has been in previous years.
The increased number of teams that we supply this season means that we take larger quantities of tyres to each test, but we are always looking at new constructions, shapes and compounds irrespective of the bike specification.”
Does the Sepang Circuit, traditionally a strong Bridgestone track, offer a realistic indication of tyre performance at this early stage of the season?
“It is true that Sepang has traditionally been a strong track for Bridgestone, so we must always be realistic in our assessment, however the performance this week has been very encouraging. The championship is 18 races long and we have also worked hard to address specific issues with some circuits that have been less favourable to Bridgestone in the past. The riders have been particularly complimentary about our tyres this week, so I think we have reason to be optimistic. The lap times during race simulations would certainly indicate that good progress has been made so far.”
What conclusions can be drawn from this first test of the season?
“I do not believe it is possible or even sensible to try and draw definite conclusions from winter testing given the number of parameters involved. While we are trying to find the direction for tyre development, the teams are also working on fine-tuning their new bikes. At the same time some riders are settling into new teams with different bike characteristics and even new tyres. Testing is all about finding a balance between all these factors, which is why we must conduct our tyre evaluation work in controlled conditions to enable us to accurately assess the differences between each tyre specification. We will continue to test at Phillip Island next week in order to gain more understanding of the tyre behaviour as the teams progress with honing the set-up of their new bikes.”