Bridgestone Jerez GP debrief
The sheer competitiveness of the MotoGP field at last weekend's Jerez GP made it extremely tight at the top of the timesheets with just half-a-second separating the top twelve in qualifying and less than five seconds splitting race winner Valentino
Rossi from fifth-placed Bridgestone-shod rider Casey Stoner.
The top Bridgestone rider was Honda Gresini's Toni Elias who spectacularly charged up to fourth place having started from eighth on the grid.
How satisfied are you with tyre performance during the Jerez GP weekend ?
“In terms of the performance of our tyres, I think we can be very pleased, even if the end results from the weekend are somewhat disappointing. After the three free practice sessions over Friday and Saturday morning, we had five of our riders in the top seven of the combined standings and the tyres had shown good consistency over many laps. Qualifying was incredibly competitive and we only missed out on pole by just over a tenth-of-a-second, but that time, set by Casey Stoner, was only good enough for fifth place. In the race itself, our tyres were quick and consistent over the full 27 laps of the race and in the closing stages Toni and Casey were lapping over half-a-second quicker than everyone else. Although we missed out on the podium, we derived great satisfaction from the level of performance from our tyres in the race.”
Do you think that qualifying performance was the key to success in Jerez ?
“I certainly think that our riders faced a bit of an uphill challenge by not being on the front row, but this is no reflection on them or the tyres.
Several of our riders could have staked a claim for the front row and the top fifteen riders were separated by less than one second. Starting from further back on the grid allowed the guys at the front to pull out an all important lead, which was just slightly out of reach by the chequered flag. Toni and Casey's advantage in the final laps reduced the deficit from almost ten seconds to just one second by the end of the race. I am sure a few extra laps would have made all the difference. Since winter testing, we have worked hard to improve our qualifying tyre performance and I was pleased to see a reduction in the gap to the front in Qatar and Jerez GPs. However we know that there is still work to do and we are always seeking continuous improvements in this area.”
How influential were weather conditions over the weekend?
“We enjoyed a dry weekend, but the track and ambient temperatures fluctuated a lot over the weekend. The track was as cool as 15°C on Friday morning, but as high as 40°C during qualifying. We provided our teams with medium and soft compound tyres in Jerez, both of which had performed well during practice sessions. The slightly cloudier, cooler temperatures we experienced on Sunday allowed us to run the softer specification of tyre which was still giving optimum grip on the final lap of the race. Toni posted his quickest lap of the race on the third lap, 1m41.395s, and set a 1m41.916 on the penultimate lap of the race, just half-a-second slower. Casey's best of 1m41.443s came on lap seven, but his final lap of the race was under four-tenths slower, 1m41.825s.”
What developments did Bridgestone make during the post-GP test session?
“The weather even played a role after the race because the post race test with all five of our teams on Monday was hit by rain. We used the opportunity to evaluate the latest generation of Bridgestone wet weather tyres, since many of our teams have not had the chance to run their new 800cc machines in wet conditions. Although Tuesday's weather was better, the rain-interrupted day on Monday meant that we did not have sufficient time to carry out much of our test programme. Concerning qualifying tyres, we were able to try one specification front and rear qualifying tyre. We worked with Honda Gresini, Kawasaki and Ducati on this second day and we saw some interesting lap times. Marco Melandri was quickest with a time of 1m39.484s which was 0.082s from Dani Pedrosa's pole time on Saturday afternoon.”
Will Bridgestone introduce front qualifying tyres in time for Turkey?
“We hope that our front qualifying tyre development work will prove advantageous in the long-run, but we still need more time to evaluate the front spec, so it will not be introduced in Turkey. I believe that the rear tyre is where we will derive most benefit and improvement in qualifying performance. The initial test results from Tuesday were certainly promising and we are quite pleased with the progress made so far.”