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Tire testing at Suzuka

THERE is to be a major tire test at Suzuka in the days after the Japanese Grand Prix. The test - which goes against the month-long F1 testing ban - has been organized by Bridgestone with the blessing of the FIA so that teams can try out the 1999 specification Bridgestone tires which they will all be using next year. The new tires will feature a fourth groove designed to reduce grip and the teams are all keen to have some understanding of the behavior of the tires before finalizing their suspension designs for next year. The test will also enable Bridgestone to establish wear rates and pinpoint potential problems in the tires. "We have been collaborating with the FIA since midsummer," says Bridgestone's Hiroshi Yasukawa, "and following Goodyear's withdrawal from F1 we decided that everyone's best interest would be served by being able to test our products as soon as possible after the racing season was complete".

The end of the F1 tire war will probably save Bridgestone a great deal of money. According to Goodyear's financial statements the American tire company has been spending $30m a quarter on Grand Prix racing this year - which amounts to a budget of $120m a year.

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