With race wins divided equally between Bridgestone and Michelin during the first four rounds of the 2008 MotoGP World championship, Tohru Ubukata, manager of Motorcycle Race Tyre Development at Bridgestone, believes the tyre war is 'about as even as it could possibly be'.

Reigning world champion Casey Stoner took Bridgestone to victory in the Qatar season opener, before Michelin riders Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo struck back at Jerez and Estoril. Valentino Rossi's debut Bridgestone victory last time out in Shanghai then evened the balance.

"There have been four different winners in the first four races, using both brands of tyre, so it [the tyre war] is about as even as it could possibly be," said Ubukata. "There have been two victories using Bridgestone tyres with Casey in Qatar and now Valentino in China, so I believe we can be satisfied.

"The performance of both tyre manufacturers is at a very high level, as we have seen by the lap times and competitiveness in recent races, but this is the great thing about competition; we must keep up an aggressive rate of development for each and every race," he warned.

But while race wins have been equally split, the same cannot be said of podiums and pole positions.

Bridgestone supplies 11 of the 18 riders on the full-time 2008 MotoGP grid but, of the twelve podium places so far possible, Michelin riders have claimed seven and taken all four pole positions.

Nevertheless, Bridgestone put two riders on the front row in China and believes the one-lap gap to Michelin is closing.

"[Shanghai] was the first time this season that we have had two riders on the front row [this year] and it was a great qualifying performance from Valentino and Casey," said Ubukata. "The Suzuki riders also made big steps ahead with Loris and Chris in the top eight, their best qualifying results of the season so far.

"We brought new rear construction qualifiers to China which helped us improve the overall grid positions, even if the gap to pole position is still too much. Our rivals continue to perform very strongly in this area, so we must work even more, but we are getting there step by step," he declared.

Round five of the MotoGP World Championship takes place at Le Mans in France, Michelin's home event.