Stoner first as Jerez offers MotoGP “every track condition”
Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner scored his first MotoGP victory at Jerez after fending off Factory Yamaha Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo in a closely contested Spanish GP. Masao Azuma, chief engineer at tyre supplier Bridgestone’s Motorsport Tyre Development Department, said: “I am happy with how both our wet and slick tyres performed at Jerez in what were very challenging operating conditions.”
Starting from fifth, Stoner worked his way through the field to take the race lead on the third lap and for the remaining 24 laps was put under intense pressure from Lorenzo. Despite the Spaniard’s best efforts, Stoner was too strong and crossed the finish line 0.947 seconds ahead of Lorenzo with Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa a further 1.1 seconds back in third place.
Rounding out the top five yet again were the Monster Tech3 Yamaha duo of Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso in fourth and fifth respectively, with top CRT honours at Jerez going to Power Electronics Aspar‘s Aleix Espargaro in 12th place.
Rain soaked the Jerez circuit until approximately 30 minutes before the start of the MotoGP race with wet patches on track making conditions less than ideal for the beginning of the race. With clouds looming overhead, all riders opted for the soft compound rear slick tyre for improved warm-up performance in the slightly cool temperatures. Thirteen of the twenty-one riders opted for the new specification front slick tyre in the hard compound option, with the softer construction of this new development giving riders extra confidence in the challenging conditions.
Hiroshi Yamada – manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department – offered Stoner his congratulations on his first Jerez triumph, “and also to the Repsol Honda team. Thankfully the rain stopped before the race which meant we had relatively dry track conditions for the race compared to the rest of the weekend, though the unsettled weather meant riders didn’t make their final tyre choice until lining up on the grid.
“Despite the damp patches on the circuit, the racing was very good with many close contests taking place in front of the large and passionate crowd. Overall I was very pleased with how our tyres performed in the challenging conditions, in particular the new specification front tyre which was widely utilised for the race. The first two races of the season have been very exciting and I look forward to what I am sure will be another interesting race next weekend at Estoril.”
Coping with changeable conditions
Azuma gave an insight into the how riders had responded to conditions: “Jerez presented every possible kind of track condition from fully wet to fully dry and so our engineers worked very closely with teams throughout the weekend to assist with tyre selection.
“With circuit conditions for the race being dry but still less than optimal, all riders selected the soft rear slick tyre. For the front, most riders selected the new specification front slick tyre in the hard compound for better durability, while also benefitting from the improved rider feel provided by the new construction. However, the top three finishers in today’s race went for the medium compound front slick tyre for its better warm-up performance and better ability to remain in the optimal temperature range in case of rain during the race.
Stoner said that his team had taken a chance with the setup of his Repsol Honda bike in order to win the Grand Prix: “Jerez is a track I’ve never won at before and after yesterday we had to find something for the race, so today we took a bit of a gamble with our setup which gave us a lot better feel in the front and for me that’s really important at this track. Thanks to my team because they turned it around for me today and gave me one of the best races of my career. It really was a fantastic race for us.”