On Bridgestone tyres
Bridgestone-shod Ducati rider Casey Stoner today scored an historic maiden victory, setting the fastest lap of the race on his final lap to beat Valentino Rossi into second place by almost three seconds.
Stoner's win marks the ninth victory and
25th podium on Bridgestone tyres since Bridgestone entered MotoGP in 2002. Following Loris Capirossi's win in Jerez 2006, today's Qatari success makes it two years in a row that a Bridgestone-shod Ducati rider has won the season-opening GP.
Bridgestone can now also claim that it has provided tyres to the final winner of the 990cc era (Troy Bayliss, Valencia 2006) and the first winner of the new 800cc era (Casey Stoner, Qatar 2007).
Suzuki's John Hopkins translated his outstanding winter testing form into a near podium result, finishing just half a second from Dani Pedrosa to take fourth spot. The top four finishers were the only men to lap under 1m57s in today's race. Stoner's best of 1m56.528s was 0.8s quicker than the previous record held by Rossi, underlining the year-on-year development undertaken by Bridgestone since last year's race.
Behind Hopkins, Honda Gresini rider Marco Melandri converted his tenth place on the grid into fifth spot on his Bridgestone race debut, Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen scored nine points for seventh place, while Alex Barros also achieved a top ten with ninth place. His team-mate Alex Hofmann picked up points for 11th, as did Olivier Jacque for 12th and Toni Elias for 14th.
Loris Capirossi and Randy de Puniet were not classified, the former, however, setting the fifth fastest lap of the GP.
Since 2002, riders on Bridgestone tyres have amassed a combined total of 2030 points in the championship, including the 76 tallied in Qatar this afternoon.
Hiroshi Yasukawa Director of Bridgestone Motorsport
It was an extremely satisfying weekend for Bridgestone in Qatar and I was very happy to see Casey Stoner on our tyres take his first victory in MotoGP. I would like to pass on my congratulations to the whole Ducati team for an excellent result. Compliments must go to all five of our teams for their performances this weekend. They were all able to achieve points-scoring results today and we saw five Bridgestone-shod riders in the top ten. This is particularly encouraging for the rest of the season and is the perfect way to start this exciting 2007 season in MotoGP. Lastly, it has been a job well done for all our on-track staff members and for our employees back at the factory and the result is a testament to all their hard work during the winter season.
Hirohide Hamashima Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development
I am very pleased that we have been able to show consistently competitive performance over this Qatar week. Our tyres have coupled well with our teams' bikes to produce some strong overall packages. To start the first race of the season in this way is very important and motivating for us all. I am appreciative of the work from our technical side for all the hard work over the winter. The victory with Casey and Ducati, as well as the fantastic results for Suzuki and Honda Gresini today show that we have followed the correct direction with regard to our development for the 800cc bikes and the new tyre regulations. The gap with our competitors is still very close so we must continue to work even harder to maintain this momentum. We will be relying on the close collaboration we have built up with each of our teams to help accomplish this.
Casey Stoner Ducati Winner
We couldn't ask for much more, it was my first time riding with Ducati and Bridgestone, a perfect start! I couldn't be happier with the weekend, the team worked perfectly. The bike and tyres also worked perfectly in the race. On the last lap, I didn't realise that I had a gap and I rode the fastest lap of the race, which shows how well the Bridgestones are working. I think we will get stronger and stronger but we have to see how the season pans out.