First Season: Official Tire Supplier
The 2009 MotoGP season was the first for Bridgestone as the series’ Official Tire Supplier. This meant that rather than supporting seven teams and a total of thirteen riders by the end of last year, Bridgestone supplied tires 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 tires for Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, and eleven different riders finished on the podium. Valentino Rossi and the Fiat Yamaha Team eventually won the World Championship at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Please read on and enjoy the interview with Hiroshi Yasukawa, the Bridgestone Director for MotoGP.
Question: How can you summarize the first year for Bridgestone as MotoGP’s official tire supplier?
MotoGP Director: "The challenges for Bridgestone this year were very different as it was our first in MotoGP without tire competition. We miss the tire 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 tires that allowed the riders using them to be faster than the competition, whereas this year our role was much more involved, providing not just tires but support to every team and rider in the series.
Question: What were some of your challenges?
MotoGP Director: "While we had experience of working closely with all the involved motorcycle manufacturers in the past, adapting our infrastructure to fulfill our commitment as the Official Tire 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 single tire supplier has been well received by teams, riders and of course Dorna and the FIM, for which I would like to thank them all."
Question: Why was a significant year for Bridgestone in the company’s MotoGP history?
MotoGP Director: "The 2009 season was an important one for us because it marked our move to the single tire supplier in MotoGP having only entered the sport in 2002. 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 tires from the 133 grand 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 tire competition before 2009."
Question: How important is MotoGP for Bridgestone?
MotoGP Director: "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 tire 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."
Question: Does the old race on Sunday, sell on Monday saying apply?
MotoGP Director: "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 tire Supplier for the next two seasons, and I think this reflects the value of MotoGP to Bridgestone Corporation."