Oct 10, 2006
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MotoGP heads back to Europe after a six-week hiatus for the penultimate race on this year's calendar as Estoril plays host to the Portuguese Grand Prix this weekend with the championship still wide open.
Ducati's Loris Capirossi is the highest placed Bridgestone-shod rider in the championship classification. The Italian, three times a winner in 2006, lies 31 points adrift of leader Nicky Hayden, but a mere four points from third placed Marco Melandri with a maximum of 50 points still up for grabs.
A resurgent Capirossi has taken three front row starts, two victories and an additional second place over the last four races as the Ducati-Bridgestone package has proven to be a competitive force.
All three of Bridgestone teams have presence within the top twelve of the championship with Capirossi's Ducati team-mate Sete Gibernau in tenth place after a strong ride to fourth in Motegi two weeks ago. Suzuki riders John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen currently occupy ninth and eleventh positions respectively, while Kawasaki's Shinya Nakano rounds out the top twelve in twelfth place.
Portugal has been the scene of some good results for Bridgestone riders in previous seasons with Carlos Checa taking fifth place last year and Makoto Tamada scoring second place back in 2004. Bridgestone is hopeful of maintaining its recent strong form as the 2006 MotoGP season enters the final straight in Estoril this weekend.
HIROSHI YAMADA - BRIDGESTONE MOTORSPORT - MOTORCYCLE RACING MANAGER
"Estoril is one of the most technically demanding circuits on the MotoGP calendar with a combination of left and right-hand corners as well as a long main straight down which riders reach top speeds of over 330kmh. There is real diversity between the characteristics of the 13 corners with the four slower left-handers not quite as severe on the tyres as the higher speed right-handers and, in particular, the important final corner coming onto the 1km straight. Overall though, the track is not as hard on tyres as other venues we visit during the season, so we are confident that we have developed tyre compounds for Estoril that will allow our six riders to be competitive over the entire 4.182km lap.
"This MotoGP season has seen its fair share of inclement weather, but Estoril's coastal location usually means that the circuit is prone to unpredictable wind, rain and changeable temperatures. Last year's race may not be a totally reliable form guide because it took place in April and in previous seasons we have raced at Estoril in September, so this year's October date could alter temperatures. Generally we can expect track temperatures in the range of 20-30Â°C, depending on the ambient peak, which would permit us to run softer compounds.
"We will continue to evaluate the performance of our new shape rear tyre this weekend and hope that its performance can replicate the sort of competitiveness and durability we have seen from Bridgestone tyres in the last few races. There is a lot still to play for in these final two events of the season."
BRIDGESTONE'S 2005 PORTUGUESE GP RACE RESULTS
P5 Carlos Checa Ducati 47m43.827s +29.774s
P8 Shinya Nakano Kawasaki 48m13.900s +59.847s
P9 Loris Capirossi Ducati 48m21.771s +1m07.718s
P12 Kenny Roberts Suzuki 48m48.104s +1m34.051s
DNF John Hopkins Suzuki 26m51.387 +12 laps