Bridgestone’s Yasukawa: MotoGP “a Very Important Platform”
The 2009 MotoGP season was the first for Bridgestone as the series’ Official Tyre Supplier. Looking back on the season in a question and answer session, Bridgestone Motorsport director Hiroshi Yasukawa explained the importance of MotoGP to other areas of the company’s business, why Bridgestone misses tyre-based competition in the sport, and the new challenges that come with being exclusive supplier. Rather than supporting seven teams and a total of thirteen riders as was the case at the end of last year, Bridgestone supplied tyres and provided support to every team and rider on the grid. In total there were five race-winners, including the first MotoGP win for Andrea Dovizioso and the first on Bridgestone tyres for Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, and eleven different riders finished on the podium. The World Championship was won by Valentino Rossi and the Fiat Yamaha Team at the Malaysian Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the season.
Yasukawa summed up the importance of MotoGP to Bridgestone: “The economic climate has changed this year but MotoGP remains very valuable to the Bridgestone brand worldwide for the exposure it affords us and the platform it gives us to demonstrate our technical expertise. A significant proportion of motorcycle tyre sales are based upon perceived performance of the manufacturer, and our participation in MotoGP over the years has allowed us to both develop the performance of our products alongside some of the sport’s greatest riders and communicate this worldwide.
“For our sales companies MotoGP is also a very important platform to engage with key customers and our involvement in the sport allows them to access premier sporting events in their markets. Bridgestone promotes road safety campaigns such as Make Cars Green and Think Before You Drive together with the FIA, and one of our objectives is to promote such activities more through MotoGP in coming seasons. With our existing agreement with Dorna we are committed to supporting the series as the Official Tyre Supplier for the next two seasons, and I think this reflects the value of MotoGP to Bridgestone Corporation.”
Returning to the position of Bridgestone as MotoGP’s official tyre supplier, Yasukawa said: “The challenges for Bridgestone this year were very different as it was our first in MotoGP without tyre competition. We miss the tyre competition and the lack of it does make it more of a challenge for us, but it presents new opportunities. In the past our objective was to provide tyres that allowed the riders using them to be faster than the competition, whereas this year our role was much more involved, providing not just tyres but support to every team and rider in the series.
“Whilst we had experience of working closely with all the involved motorcycle manufacturers in the past, adapting our infrastructure to fulfil our commitment as the Official Tyre Supplier was the first challenge, especially given the time frame we had in which to do so. Nevertheless we were ready for the start of the season, and I am proud of that achievement and of everything we have accomplished since. We have seen some thrilling racing, and our appointment as the sole tyre supplier has been well received by teams, riders and of course Dorna and the FIM, for which I would like to thank them all.”
Yasukawa concluded that the 2009 season had been an important one, as well as the source of great pride for the company: “I am proud of the dedication and commitment that the whole team has shown to rise to this level so rapidly, and I also sincerely thank the support of everyone we have received during this time. Of course when we first started it was not easy but we worked hard to get it right, and I am very pleased that all that work has resulted in our current situation. Casey Stoner’s victory at the Australian Grand Prix this year also marked the 50th premier class win on our tyres from the 133 grands prix we had competed in by that point in the season. Importantly for us, 70 per cent of these wins came during the years of tyre competition before 2009.”