Less than 24 hours after Casey Stoner took victory in the final race of the 2008 season, Bridgestone's preparations for the 2009 season got underway with a test at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia on Monday and Tuesday.

Bridgestone will be the sole tyre supplier for the MotoGP championship from 2009 and the Valencia test marked the first chance to evaluate new specification tyres with almost all teams and riders for next year (only Tech 3 Yamaha was missing).

A total of 18 riders participated in the test on Monday, some of whom had were making their debut for new teams whilst others were enjoying their first ever taste of MotoGP machinery.

In accordance with the agreed tyre restrictions for the test, Bridgestone supplied a total of just 12 slick tyres to each rider, consisting of two different front and rear specifications.

The introduction of the sole tyre supply regulation for 2009 will see a dramatic reduction in the total number of tyres available for each rider during the race weekend (20 each is rumoured) so tyres will have to operate within a wider working range with a greater level of durability.

This reduction in tyre options has led to concerns by some riders and commentators that the rubber available would only suit the class 'stars', whilst the cut in numbers might force riders to sit in the pits rather than 'burn rubber' out on track.

Neither of these concerns materialised during the Monday test, with most riders, teams and manufacturers - even those without prior Bridgestone experience - pleasantly surprised by the grip and durability of the tyres on offer.

Nevertheless, some riders are reserving final judgement until they have tested at several different tracks and all teams will need to change their bikes in some way to maximise the new tyre characteristics.

Meanwhile, Bridgestone has also reduced the maximum level of grip of the tyres in a concerted effort to assist the sport's governing body in its drive for improved safety, through reduced cornering speeds. That didn't stop most riders lapping faster in the test than they had in the race though, partly due to improved track conditions.

Monday's session was held in hot and sunny conditions with Casey Stoner resuming where he left off on Sunday, topping the timesheets with a best lap time of 1min 32.464sec using the new Ducati GP9 machine.

Tuesday's session was curtailed by intermittent rain and only seven riders emerged during the final two hours to try Bridgestone's wet weather tyres.

"I am really very satisfied with the first trials of our new specification slick tyres which we were able to carry out in the dry conditions on Monday," said Tohru Ubukata, Bridgestone Motorsport's manager of Race Tyre Development. "Considering it is the first time that we are producing MotoGP tyres for everybody in a sole tyre supply situation, I think we have made a good start.

"We have used the foundation of our 2008 tyres for these new specs but made some important alterations to ensure that the tyres have a wide operating window and can work well for all teams and riders. We have reduced the overall grip level of the tyres in order to accomplish this and the feedback from the riders has been encouraging.

"The track conditions on Monday were excellent and the lap times were also very competitive as a result. The most important thing for us is to know that our tyres are durable because this will be one of the most fundamental things for us next season. Some riders put up to 40 laps on the same set of tyres with great consistency which was particularly impressive.

"Unfortunately the conditions today have not been as good, but the information obtained from yesterday's session will be instrumental for us to hone the tyre specs over the winter period.

"This new situation as the only tyre manufacturer will be a new challenge for us, but I am sure we are up to the job and can live up to the trust that the teams, manufacturers and riders have shown in us and our capabilities."

Bridgestone will now use the data collated at Valencia in order to prepare tyres for the next test session, which will take place at the end of November in Jerez.



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