Bridgestone concede qualifying tyre still not good enough

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Bridgestone bosses have conceded that its soft qualifying rubber still needs to be significantly improved, despite winning three out of the five races in 2008.

Rivals Michelin has a 100 per cent pole position record so far this season, yet Valentino Rossi’s back-to-back victories in Shanghai and Le Mans mean Bridgestone lead the way in race wins.

Tohru Ubukata, Bridgestone Motorsport Manager Motorcycle Race Tyre Development said improving qualifiers was still essential despite the impressive race results achieved so far.

Ubukata told MCN: “Casey (Stoner) did a good job in qualifying to claim his second front row of the season in Le Mans, but we are still chasing the first pole of the year. Casey thought he could have challenged for the pole position, but third place was still a good result in the circumstances.

“Our rivals continue to show impressive pace in qualifying trim but we are working hard to reduce the gap. Of course, as we make improvements, so too do our rivals, therefore we need to make even bigger development steps to make up ground.

“For Le Mans, we used our most recent qualifying spec, which was first used in China, and we had four riders on the first three rows. Although I feel better about our qualifying performance in general, it is still not enough.

“We used the post-race test session to continue development in this area, and I think we found some more interesting results with a new construction rear qualifier, which I hope will benefit our riders in Mugello and Catalunya, the next two events on the calendar.

“Qualifying is not always the most critical part of the weekend, especially at good overtaking circuits, but it would still be helpful for our riders to start higher up the grid to avoid getting caught in the midfield battle through the first corners.”

Bridgestone also evaluated new spec rear race tyres at a test session in Le Mans, and Ubukata said: “In addition to the work on qualifying tyres, we evaluated a new specification rear race tyres both new construction and new compound.

“Our point of focus was on enhancing edge grip, and many riders gave us positive feedback on this tyre, which will help further development back in Japan.

“With so many races in a short space of time between now and Laguna Seca in July, it is important for us to keep up a competitive rate of development to allow all our teams and riders to fight for the top positions.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt