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GP Week : Issue 7
THERE is no immediate end in sight to the qualifying problems for Bridgestone tyre men, with the long-awaited front qualifier still on the back burner. Tests at Estoril after the Portuguese GP concentrated on rear tyres, leaving Michelin men with that advantage intact. Increased tyre allocations this year have made it common practice for MotoGP riders to select three rear qualifiers rather than the two of last year for the timed final hour, giving them an extra chance to explore the possibilities. Michelin have a special front to go with the super-sticky rears; Bridgestone do not, in spite of testing a version a year ago at Jerez. It’s not relevant to race performance, except in the vital matter of grid position. At Estoril, seven of the top eight qualifiers were on Michelin, with third- placed Rossi the only exception, after his usual superhuman effort. At present, however, Bridgestone are working to catch up with Michelin, which came out stronger than expected. As a result, development of qualifying tyres has taken a back step to race tyres. “We are not satisfied with the performance level of our tyres, especially in comparison to our rivals, so we must work harder,” said Tohru Ubukata, Bridgestone design development chief. At the post-Estoril tests, “we tried mainly new rear tyres for both qualifying and races, covering new compounds and new constructions,” he said, adding that they had found improved grip, and would use some of these tyres at the next race. Bridgestone shelve front qualifier for race improvements M oto GP news >> 15