Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Bridgestone Announces Action-Packed Motorsports Program for 2006

Source:Bridgestone Press Release

Bridgestone Announces Action-Packed Motorsports Program for 2006


Tokyo (January 30, 2006)― Formula One (F1) and MotoGP racing head a full slate of motorsports competition for the Bridgestone Group in 2006. In addition to Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro and MF1 Racing, Bridgestone will supply tires to three new teams for the 2006 F1 season: the Panasonic Toyota Racing team, the distinguished WilliamsF1 team from England and the Super Aguri Formula One team, making a total of five teams and ten cars. The 2006 F1 season kicks off in Bahrain on March 12 and wraps up in Brazil. There will be 19 races in all.

As for the GP2 series, established in 2005, all of the competitors will race on Bridgestone tires, akin to last year. The series is a training ground for prospective F1 drivers. Regulation changes this year will see a shift from grooved dry-weather tires to slicks. The level of competition is expected to get even tougher as the primary aim of the drivers is to be a future world champion. The GP2 series comprises 23 races on 12 circuits.

Bridgestone will also continue to supply―under its Firestone brand―all the tires to the Indy Racing League (IRL). This year marks the fourth consecutive year that Bridgestone will sponsor the Bridgestone Indy Japan 300 mile. This third race of the 2006 IRL calendar, will take place on Saturday, April 22, at Twin Ring Motegi in Tochigi Prefecture. This year’s 14-race IRL season will include races on street courses as well as on road courses. It gets under way on March 26 in Miami.

Bridgestone will supply Bridgestone-brand tires to the Champ Car World Series exclusively. Fifteen races are scheduled for the 2006 season.

Bridgestone will also supply Bridgestone-brand tires to the Japanese Championship Formula Nippon, Japan’s top formula category. Satoshi Motoyama won three of the eight races in 2005, taking the championship title prior to the last race. With the introduction of a new chassis and the supply of engines from Toyota and Honda, Formula Nippon is expected to heat up even more in 2006. This year’s Formula Nippon calendar, like last year’s, consists of nine races.

In the midst of heavy rain, the Toyota Supra team of Yuji Tachikawa and Toranosuke Takagi led from start to finish in the final round of the Super GT series of 2005 to clinch the championship. Multiple manufacturers supplied tires to Super GT Series teams last year, but Bridgestone-equipped machines won seven of the eight races in the GT500 category and monopolized the top of the rankings. In 2006, the Suzuka 1000 will be added to the calendar for a total of nine races - eight in Japan and one in Malaysia. The competition is expected to be hot again this year.

Bridgestone will also continue to supply tires to various categories in motorcycle racing this year, including MotoGP, which is the pinnacle of the sport. Last year, riders using Bridgestone tires captured pole position three times and posted podium finishes eight times. This included two number one finishes with a victory for Loris Capirossi in the Japanese GP. In the 2006 season, the fifth year in this class, Bridgestone will supply tires to three teams - the Ducati Marlboro Team, the Kawasaki Racing Team and Team Suzuki MotoGP - and therefore six machines.

In the All Japan Road Race Championship, Bridgestone tires were used by the champion in each race class last year. The company will supply tires to all classes again this year, from JSB1000 to ST600, GP250, GP125 and the newly established class, GP-MONO.

In the AMA Supercross/Motocross Series, Bridgestone supplied tires to the champion of both series last year. In Motocross, Bridgestone tires were used by the champion for the second consecutive year. In the 2006 season, Bridgestone will supply tires to the racing teams of Suzuki, Kawasaki, Yamaha, and also to several other top ranking teams.

Bridgestone will also supply its tires to other motorsport categories including the All Japan Gymkhana Championship, the All Japan Dirt Trial Championship, the All Japan Rally Championship, and the All Japan Kart Championship, and also to other categories in motorcycle racing such as the All Japan Motocross Championship.

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