(Sunday, June 24, 2007)
Ducati team manager Livio Suppo can usually be relied upon to mention his technical partners, Shell and Bridgestone, in his press releases and TV interviews. Not today: invited by Randy Mamola on Eurosport to say how good Bridgestone’s wet-weather tires were he simply replied “Rider!” The he repeated it a few times to make sure we got the message. He was right: Casey Stoner criticized the Donington Park surface in Friday, won today’s race by nearly twelve seconds in ultra-tricky drying conditions then repeated his opinion that the surface was probably the worst of the year.
Casey didn’t have it all his own way. Colin Edwards gave him a serious run for his money up to half-distance while the track was soaking, when it started to dry he hit problems. Both he and his team-mate Valentino Rossi hit serious problems as a dry line started to appear. Rossi said he’d never seen a tire like it after a race.
Colin reported so much wheelspin coming out of the Foggy Esses that his electronics wouldn’t let him change gear so he had to shift up on minimal throttle. He wasn’t alone, all the Michelin men were in trouble with the center of their tread all but disappearing. Bridgestone, who had a harder tire than their teams were happy with on the grid, turned out to have it right. Stoner struggled a little in the opening laps then found conditions suiting him perfectly mid-race and he was able to conserve his rubber in the closing stages as Edwards struggled. Colin was able to hold off Chris Vermeulen’s late charge but Rossi reported that when Chris came past him it was ‘like Vermeulen had changed his tire.’ Valentino had no complaints: “This was our potential today.”
He is more worried about his and the tire’s performance than the fact Stoner is now 26 points ahead in the championship.
Dani Pedrosa looked likley to be the main Honda challenger but he had to swap to his second bike after the sighting lap and found his soft Michelin running out of grip after a handful of laps. Nicky Hayden was on the tail of the leading group when he crashed; at least the champ was up the front and looked more like his old self this weekend.
There is less than a week to the next race. Michelin have some work to do according to Rossi–and you wouldn’t want to be a Honda employee at the moment either. The long term weather forecast for Holland? Wet…