Bridgestone never imagined they'd enjoy such a successful Rio Grand Prix; an event which saw the Japanese tyre manufacturer take pole position, a new lap record and a maiden MotoGP victory against dominant rivals Michelin.

The first shock of an unpredictable weekend took place when Suzuki's Kenny Roberts (middle pic) grabbed pole position ahead of four Honda riders, despite their superior engine power. The pole was Bridgestone's first with a four-stroke and second in the premier-class after Jeremy McWilliams put his 500cc Proton KR3 at the head of the 2002 Australian GP grid.

The former world champion would go on to take seventh in the race, his best result so far this season, but that looked insignificant next to the achievements of Tamada...

The Japanese had given a clue to his potential by leading Saturday's free practice session, pushing his Camel Honda to the top on a slick tyre that had done 18 laps. With race conditions expected to be similar, due to the earlier MotoGP race time of 11.30, hopes for a strong result were high, but few predicted what was to follow:

Seventh after one lap, Tamada pushed ahead relentlessly, delivering a new lap record while battling Valentino Rossi on lap seven. By mid-race, the Japanese had taken third from the reigning world champion, seized second spot from Nicky Hayden soon after and - four laps from the end - swept past team-mate Max Biaggi to take a lead he would extend to two-seconds by the chequered flag.

The Rio success was the first ever MotoGP victory for Bridgestone and Tamada, each having claimed only one previous podium, at the same circuit last season.

"What a fantastic weekend: Pole position, lap record, victory, all of our riders within the point rankings, and three of them in the top ten - that is clearly our best result ever, and exceeds all our expectations," said Bridgestone's motorcycle racing manager Hiroshi Yamada, whose company supplies tyres to Kawasaki as well as Suzuki and Tamada.

"Makoto's team did a marvellous job, squeezing more than 100 per cent of their performance out of our tyres. Makoto himself was cool and concentrated and had things under control from the start to the finish," he praised

The Rio performance was particularly significant in that it came just three races - and less than a month - after the Italian Grand Prix, in which Bridgestone suffered two tyre failures, one of which pitched Kawasaki's Shinya Nakano over the handlebars at 200mph and forcing a redesign of their rubber.

"I want to thank the teams, the riders and all our people in the technical centre who worked day and night to overcome the problems we have had at the Mugello Grand Prix," said Yamada. "This weekend shows that we recovered completely, and it also shows the power of Bridgestone as a company.

"Our first target was a MotoGP podium which we achieved last year. Our second target was a MotoGP victory which happened today. From now on, we are working towards our ultimate goal of winning the MotoGP championship!"