Bridgestone MotoGP™ Preview - Round 5: Le Mans, France
Wednesday, May 14 2014
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium; Rear: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)
Round five of the 2014 MotoGP™ season takes place at the Le Mans Bugatti circuit in France, a venue that has produced some unexpected results over the years due to its unpredictable weather.
Measuring 4.185 kilometres in length, the Le Mans circuit features a ‘stop-and-go’ configuration with low-speed corners punctuated by a series of short straight sections. The layout places an emphasis on acceleration and braking, rather than outright corner speed and the circuit demands a good bike setup to ensure the tyres work in their optimum operating range. The relatively slow corner speeds at Le Mans make the venue the least severe circuit on the MotoGP™ calendar for tyres. The low corner speeds and the generally cool temperatures at Le Mans means that the slick tyre allocation for this round uses Bridgestone’s softest rubber compounds to ensure quick warm-up, high grip and excellent temperature retention. There are nine right-hand corners compared to five left-hand corners at Le Mans, so asymmetric rear slicks with slightly harder rubber on the right shoulder are provided to riders for the French Grand Prix.
For Le Mans, Bridgestone’s rear slick tyre allocation for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders will be the soft and medium compound options, while the Ducati and Open-class riders will have access to the extra-soft and soft compounds. The front slick allocation for Le Mans will be the extra-soft, soft & medium compound options. To ensure adequate tyre warm-up in wet conditions, the main wet tyre for Le Mans will be the soft compound although each rider will be able to select the hard compound wet tyre if they choose.
Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“After four dominant performances by Marc so far this season, we all await with anticipation to see which rider can stop his run of victories, or if he will continue his domination. The stop-and-go layout of the Le Mans circuit is quite different to the flowing nature of the Jerez circuit which hosted the last round, so it will be interesting to see which riders can use this to their advantage. The layout of the Le Mans circuit and the variable weather always makes it difficult to predict the winner for the French Grand Prix, with few riders able to win the race from pole position in recent times. Once again the Ducati and Open-class riders will have access to the extra-soft rear slick this weekend and with Le Mans being the least severe circuit on tyres on the whole MotoGP calendar, it could prove to offer quite a performance boost in both qualifying and the race.”
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“Le Mans is an event where we often experience cold temperatures so ensuring good warm-up performance for the tyres is very important. The circuit itself is relatively gentle compared to other circuits as well, so our slick tyre allocation for the French Grand Prix is formulated from softer rubber compounds to ensure better warm-up and grip. The circuit has a stop-and-go nature and overall, the lateral loads placed on the tyres at Le Mans are low which is another reason why we provide softer compounds here. Another performance requirement here is to provide front tyres that provide maximum stability under braking.
“The circuit has an unbalanced layout that uses the right shoulder of the tyre more than the left, so asymmetric rear slicks with harder rubber on the right shoulder have been developed for all rear specifications this year. Last year, our extra-soft rear slick at Le Mans was symmetric, but for this year we developed an asymmetric extra-soft rear slick. The unstable weather at Le Mans can have a significant impact upon bike settings and tyre choice and in previous years we have seen vastly different conditions from one session to the other so it is always a busy race for our technical team.”