MotoGP: Bridgestone target qualifying tyre improvement

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Senior Bridgestone race boss Hirohide Hamashima says improving qualifying tyres is one of the key targets for the Japanese factory before the start of the 2008 MotoGP world championship next month.

Michelin’s soft qualifying tyres still have a clear advantage going into the new season, with the French factory dominating the overall timesheets at the three-day IRTA test session Jerez this week.

Seven-times world champion Valentino Rossi was the fastest Bridgestone rider on qualifying rubber in Spain when he clocked the fifth quickest time.

But he was the only Bridgestone rider in the top seven on qualifying tyre times, finishing 0.7secs adrift of Nicky Hayden on the Michelin-shod Repsol Honda.

Hirohide Hamshima, Director of Motorsport and Motorcycle Tyre Development Division said: “Development of the qualifiers is the most important thing for us.

“From the halfway point last year season our qualifying tyre was not so strong compared to Valentino with Michelin.

“Our first target is to increase the performance of the qualifiers.”

Tohru Ubukata, Manager of Motorcycle Race Tyre Development, also highlighted the need for improvements to the qualifying tyre.

Ubukata said: “We are quite happy with the durability of the qualifying tyres at this circuit, but it is clear that we are still in need of more grip to allow our riders to make an important step up in terms of lap time.

“Although our rivals continue to be very strong in this area, I believe we have made improvements since last year and even since the first test of this year.

“We tried several different specifications on Monday with different riders so we are sure that the variety of detailed feedback will benefit our development in this area.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt