The 2009 MotoGP season was the first to be held under single-tyre rules, with Bridgestone the Official Tyre Supplier for the entire field.

The season ended with five different race-winners (compared with four last year) - including the first MotoGP win for Andrea Dovizioso and the first on Bridgestone tyres for Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa - and saw eleven different riders finish on the podium (compared with ten in 2008).

The world championship was won by Valentino Rossi at the penultimate round, compared with three rounds to go in 2008, and the Italian's final advantage over his nearest rival was 45 points, compared with 93 points at the end of last season.

In this short interview, Hiroshi Yasukawa, director of Bridgestone Motorsport, reflects on the 2009 season and what MotoGP means to Bridgestone - a significant question after Bridgestone's recent announcement that it will quit its role as single tyre supplier for F1...

Q:
How can you summarise the first year for Bridgestone as MotoGP's official tyre supplier?

Hiroshi Yasukawa:
The challenges for Bridgestone this year were very different as it was our first in MotoGP without tyre competition. We miss the tyre 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 tyres that allowed the riders using them to be faster than the competition, whereas this year our role was much more involved, providing not just tyres but support to every team and rider in the series.

Whilst we had experience of working closely with all the involved motorcycle manufacturers in the past, adapting our infrastructure to fulfil our commitment as the Official Tyre 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 sole tyre supplier has been well received by teams, riders and of course Dorna and the FIM, for which I would like to thank them all.

Q:
This was a significant year for Bridgestone in the company's MotoGP history

Hiroshi Yasukawa:
The 2009 season was an important one for us because it marked our move to the single tyre 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 tyres from the 133 grands 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 tyre competition before 2009.

Q:
How important is MotoGP for Bridgestone?

Hiroshi Yasukawa:
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 tyre 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.

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 Tyre Supplier for the next two seasons, and I think this reflects the value of MotoGP to Bridgestone Corporation.

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