Spanish MotoGP™ debrief with Masao Azuma
Thursday, 8 May 2014
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium & Hard; Rear: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard (Main), Soft (Alternative – front), Extra-hard (Alternative – rear)
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez celebrated his one-hundredth Grand Prix in style by winning the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez ahead of Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi in second place, and teammate Dani Pedrosa in third.
The race weekend at Jerez was characterised by hot ambient conditions which pushed the track temperature during each afternoon session and the race to over 50°C, which caused greasy track conditions. Despite the less than ideal track conditions in the afternoon sessions, Marquez was able to set a new Circuit Best Lap record time for Jerez of 1’38.120; beating the record set by Jorge Lorenzo in 2008 on qualifying tyres.
Q&A with Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
This was the first time at Jerez where the rear tyre allocation was composed entirely of asymmetric slicks. How did these tyres perform, and will you keep this specification of rear tyre for next year’s Spanish Grand Prix?
“The decision to develop asymmetric rear slicks for Jerez was made after recent advances in our compound technology meant we could supply tyres with even better warm-up performance and grip for this circuit. The main objective for supplying asymmetric rear slicks for Jerez was to improve rider safety, but it appears these new tyres could also be exploited for the riders for extra performance. Over short runs they could deliver very quick pace, as shown by Marc breaking the Circuit Best Lap record from 2008 which was set on qualifying tyres. The new asymmetric rears also performed well over race distance, and looking at the lap charts of many riders the difference in lap time from the start of the race to the end was only about half a second, so this shows the tyres were consistent and predictable.”
All weekend the conditions were very hot, culminating in the track temperatures reaching 55°C for Sunday’s race. What effect did the heat have on tyre choice for the riders, and overall tyre performance?
“It is true that often when hot temperatures are encountered, that riders opt for harder compound options. At Jerez though, this wasn’t entirely the case, particularly for the rear tyre. Most of the Factory Ducati, Honda and Yamaha riders went for their hardest rear tyre option, but amongst the Open-class riders, it was the softer option – the extra-soft rear slick – that was most popular. The reason for this is that Jerez isn’t particularly severe on tyres, so the riders knew that they could comfortably manage this option over race distance despite the heat. Also, the greasy track conditions meant that the Open-class riders wanted as much edge grip as possible and the extra-soft rear slick was the best choice in this regard.”
Bridgestone announced it will be withdrawing from MotoGP™ after the 2015 season, does this mean tyre development will continue at the same pace over the next eighteen months as it did before?
“Yes we will still continue to develop new technologies as we want to leave the championship at the end of next season in the best way possible. It is in our interest to keep our development programme going strong right until the end of our tenure in MotoGP, as there is still a lot for us to learn that we can then migrate to our range of motorcycle road tyres. We are currently developing new advances in technology, particularly for the front tyre that we will be providing to teams for testing purposes in the coming months. People can expect to see some state-of-the-art tyre technology being introduced to the MotoGP™ championship over the next eighteen months. ”