Qatar Grand Prix debrief with Tohru Ubukata Round 1: Qatar GP Post-race debrief Losail International Circuit, Tuesday 13 April 2010 Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium, Extra Hard. Rear: Medium, Hard The first race of the 2010 season was a thrilling one, with the top four riders finishing within 1.9seconds of each other. With all the finishers using the harder option Bridgestone slicks front and rear, it was a straight fight on equal rubber in which Valentino Rossi triumphed, and Fiat Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo, Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso and Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden were separated by just 0.8seconds at the finish. The top four also each recorded a total race time faster than the winning time from last year’s Qatar GP, using slick tyres of a harder compound than were available for last year’s race. Q&A with Tohru Ubukata – Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department Harder tyres were brought to Qatar this year how did this affect tyre performance? “Both the front and rear slicks were available in harder compounds this year last year we brought soft and medium front and rear, and this year we had medium and extra hard fronts, and medium and hard rears. Last year, the Qatar Grand Prix was our first challenge in the single tyre era. After the race, we closely analysed the data from the weekend and saw that there was the possibility that we could select harder compounds without compromising performance, so this time we refined our compound selection and verified their performance during the test here. “Tyre performance was better this year because of the harder compounds they provided greater durability and this ultimately resulted in the total race time being faster than last year. Also, during qualifying Casey went faster than the existing lap record using both available rear compound options. This shows that the outright performance was good, and that there is a good overlap between the operating ranges of each compound. We brought harder compounds and riders favoured the harder of the selected options, so I believe we made the right selection.” What can you say about the riders’ tyre compound selection for this grand prix? “As we expected, the extra hard compound front tyre was favoured throughout the weekend, both for its durability and the additional stability it provided under braking. Every rider chose five of the extra hard front tyre and only three of the medium compound, so it was clearly the preferred choice. The harder option rear was also chosen by all but one rider for the race, because we saw in practice and qualifying that it lasted much longer than the softer option. What was interesting though was the similarity of the laptimes set on each of the rear options the performance of each was very close.” How well did the new regulations concerning riders’ choice of front tyre compounds work? “The process worked well in Qatar. This year, the regulations mean that each rider receives six front tyres before first practice, three of each compound, and then chooses his final two front tyres after the first practice. Here, it was slightly unusual because of course the first free practice was not Friday afternoon but Friday night, but still the principles stayed the same and every team made their choices smoothly. Because of the conditions in Qatar, every rider on the grid chose their final two tyres in extra hard compound, but I expect the choices to be more varied at many events this year, leading to some interesting comparisons in a race between the outright grip of the softer and the increased durability of the harder options.” This was the first race with the new regulations that reduce the number of rear tyres per rider. Were there any problems? “No, there were no problems. Every rider used their allocation of rear tyres, but we found from last year that five tyres of each compound per grand prix were more than enough. The teams and riders did not have any objections, so I expect there to be no problems with this all season.” More, from a press release issued by Tim Reeves’ publicist: Reeves opens season with brilliant hat-trick Tim Reeves and new passenger Gregory Cluze got their 2010 season underway in perfect fashion at the weekend when they won all three races at the opening round of the ‘Battle of Britain’ F1 Sidecar Championship at Pembrey. The Welsh venue saw the former World Champion in imperious form and together with Cluze and his new LCR Honda outfit, the Kent driver swept to victory in each of Saturday and Sunday’s races. Despite missing the first free practice session, Tim and Gregory were immediately on the pace in qualifying and were rewarded with pole position which set them up nicely for Saturday’s opening race. A slightly sluggish start saw the pairing in third behind Ben Birchall and Allan Schofield and once past the latter it took Tim 10 laps to latch on to the rear wheels of Birchall. However, he found a way through with two laps to go and he held on for his first win of the weekend, his task made easier when Birchall spun out as he tried to claw back the gap. Sunday’s first race saw Schofield grab the early initiative but once Tim overtook him, he slowly edged away for his second comfortable win of the weekend and he took the chequered flag by over four seconds. Later in the day, it was a similar pattern although this time Tim got by Schofield on the opening lap and controlled the race from the front easing off in the latter stages as he completed his 100% winning record. Speaking afterwards, a delighted Tim said: “I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend, it’s been perfect. It didn’t get off to a great start though when the van broke down on the way to the circuit and we missed free practice but we were soon in our stride and after taking pole position, I felt very confident going in to the races. We played around a bit with the engine, trying out different specifications but it was flying all weekend and the handling is absolutely mega so I was able to drive just how I wanted and the three races all went to plan. Gregory was brilliant and the whole combination this season is already looking fantastic so I’m really excited about the rest of the F1 season. It’s been the perfect start and I can head to the opening round of the World Championship in a great frame of mind.” Tim’s next outing comes at the opening round of the World F1 Sidecar Championship at Le Mans, France next weekend with the race taking place on Saturday 17th April. More, from a press release issued by Birchall Brothers Racing: BIRCHALL BROTHERS BEGIN BATTLE OF BRITAIN CAMPAIGN After an eventful first three races in the Eastern Airways F1 Battle of Britain championship at Pembrey, Mansfield brothers Ben and Tom Birchall scored three top four results to settle into third place in the championship. The Mitchells of Mansfield supported world champions completed the solitary qualifying session in second place just two tenths of a second away from pole and began their first race in the new series from a front row grid position. “Because the world series riders have to use a standard engine this year it has levelled the playing field in the British championship somewhat and although we had a trouble free qualifying session it was a bit hectic out there with 30 outfits on the short 1.456-mile Pembrey track. But we managed to secure a front row start and were raring to go,” said Ben. Once the 16-lap opening race got underway and the outfits sorted themselves out the Birchall brothers were quick to establish the lead which they held until the penultimate lap when they had a coming together with another outfit as both drivers went for the same piece of tarmac. Ben explained: “We were being challenged for the lead but when we both went for the same piece of track I was unfortunate to come off the worst. My outfit spun and although we were quick to rejoin we ended up taking the chequered flag in fourth position.” The grid for the two Sunday races was determined by the finishing places in Saturday’s race and with a second row start in fourth place the Birchall brothers had to put in an extra effort to remain on terms with the leaders. They completed the first of Sunday’s two 12-lappers in third place before going on to take second in the final race. “Although we didn’t actually win a race at Pembrey we did improve our times and found a really good set up on the new chassis in readiness for the first round of the world championship. “We are really happy with the new outfit and like it more every time we ride it. We have come on in leaps and bounds over the weekend and this reflected in our laps times at Pembrey. “It is a good five years since we last raced at Pembrey and it took a few laps to settle but it’s a great little circuit and we really enjoyed ourselves. It was good to see a full grid of F1 sidecars racing this weekend which reflects the popularity of our sport.” The Birchall brothers now travel to France where they will begin the defence of their world crown at Le Mans. Qualifying takes place on Friday followed by an 18-lap race on Saturday at 12 noon CET prior to the start of the Le Mans 24-hour World Endurance race for solo machines.
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