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Jun 3, 2009

Bridgestone: Italian GP Was First Time Top Three Riders Used Different Compound Combinations

Italian Grand Prix debrief with Tohru Ubukata

Round 5: Italy Post-race debrief
Autodromo del Mugello

Tyre compounds used:
Front: Wets - Soft. Slicks Medium, Hard.
Rear: Wets - Soft. Slicks Medium, Hard

Rain struck again in Mugello for the second consecutive race in mixed conditions. All riders started on Bridgestone's wet tyres, but as soon as lap four were entering the pits to change to their dry bikes with slick tyres. Seven riders used the medium compound front and rear Bridgestone slicks, three used medium fronts and hard rears, five opted for hard front and rear compounds, and two riders chose hard fronts and medium rears. It was the first grand prix at which the top three riders each used a different compound combination.

Q&A with Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development

We saw very similar conditions in Le Mans, but what made Mugello a tougher race for the tyres?

Mugello is a circuit that requires harder compound tyres because of the faster corners and long straights. Here track grip in the dry is very good, but if it rains the track changes a lot and gets very slippery so this is why it is very tough for the tyres and riders to cope with changing conditions. Track temperature can also change a lot, as on Friday we had a peak of 46 degrees Celsius when it was dry and sunny, but as soon as we had rain on Sunday the track temperature dropped to as low as 20 degrees Celsius. I have to say though that even in the damp and cold conditions we saw in the race, the hard compound Bridgestone slick worked well and consistently, so this shows that the working temperature range of even the medium and hard compound slick tyres is enough to cover all conditions from damp to dry.

Why do you think it was that during this race the riders' compound choices varied so much?

We can put this down to two things: riding style and the individual characteristics of the bikes. At Mugello the characteristics of each machine and the differences in riding style are more pronounced because of the layout of the circuit very fast and flowing. This means that the different compounds have more of an effect on each rider and bike package so individual preference is even more important. The slick Bridgestone compound choices were based on the teams' experience from Saturday's free practice and qualifying, on the tyre compounds that they found worked for them then. What we have seen though is that our wet tyre performs until riders can swap straight to our slick tyres. Mugello was the first time that the hard compound rear Bridgestone was used.

What can you say about its performance in tricky conditions?

I'm quite happy with the performance of our hard rear tyre as it gave good pace and consistency with high track temperatures on Friday and Saturday, and also worked well in the cold and damp conditions mid-way through the race on Sunday when it was used by eight riders. This is a good indicator of the wider temperature operating range that we have developed for the MotoGP tyres we are providing this season.