Jan 12, 2001
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Bridgestone is expected to announce momentarily that it has contracted Kanemoto Racing to test tires on a Honda NSR500 in preparation for the Japanese tire giant's assault on 500cc Grand Prix racing in 2002.
Insiders say that Kanemoto will test with two riders at Grand Prix tracks around the world, gathering data for Bridgestone's challenge to rival tire maker Michelin, which currently completely dominates GP racing's most prestigious classification.
While Bridgestone has achieved some success in the past on 125cc and 250cc machines, the company has never made much of an impression in 500cc GP nor in Superbike racing worldwide. Racing observers have wondered for years when--and if--the company would get serious about top-level motorcycle racing, given that it was able to drive rival Goodyear completely out of Formula One car racing internationally and open-wheel CART and IRL racing in the U.S. in a matter of years after initially challenging the American firm's monopoly.
Michelin has entered the Formula One battle for 2002, challenging Bridgestone's exclusive hold on the car series, and Bridgestone's attack on Michelin's 500cc GP stronghold may be a warning shot across the bow for the French tire firm.
If it is successful in 500cc Grand Prix racing, Bridgestone is likely to challenge Michelin and Dunlop in World Superbike competition, and may threaten Dunlop's monopoly fitment on Superbike teams in the AMA Superbike Series.