German MotoGP™ debrief with Bridgestone’s Shinji Aoki

Friday, 18 July 2014

Following last weekend’s eni Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland, Bridgestone review their findings from round nine.

The visit to Sachsenring saw Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez secure his ninth successive victory and complete a clean sweep of the first half of the MotoGP™ season.

It was a successful weekend for Repsol Honda with Dani Pedrosa taking second place on the rostrum, while Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo also handled the tricky conditions well to finish in third place.

A brief rain shower before the start of the German Grand Prix resulted in the race starting on a track that was mainly dry but with wet patches in the final sector. The challenging conditions resulted in nine of the twenty-three riders lining up on the grid on slick tyres, while the remaining fourteen riders started on slick tyres from pit lane after changing bikes during the warm-up lap.

Q&A with Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department

Sachsenring is renowned as a tough venue for the riders as well as the tyres. What makes it such a challenging circuit for tyres and how does this influence tyre development for this track?  

 “There are many factors that make Sachsenring one of the most difficult MotoGP circuits in regards to tyre development. First of all, the tarmac is very abrasive which causes high wear rates, and then there are numerous long sweeping corners where the riders spend extended periods at high lean angles which cause extreme tyre temperatures on the left shoulder of the rear tyre.”

“Also, there are just three right-hand corners compered to ten left-hand corners and so we need to engineer the left shoulder of the tyre to resist extreme temperatures, while the right side suffers the opposite problem, it has to be engineered to warm-up quickly and retain temperature. The elevation changes also mean that the front tyres have to provide a lot of stability under braking, so all these different elements need to be considered when developing tyres for the German Grand Prix.”

“Looking at the results from the race weekend, I’m pleased that we were able to supply a tyre allocation that struck the right balance between rider safety, performance and durability. The race took part in mixed conditions with wet patches on a drying circuit yet we almost got through the race without a single crash, while a new outright lap record was set by Marc Marquez in qualifying on Saturday.”

The previous race at Assen also started in mixed conditions, although this time all the riders elected to start on slick tyres. Considering parts of the circuit were fully wet, was this a surprising decision?

“Although the tarmac at Sachsenring and Assen are different and don’t offer the same level of grip, I believe that the experience the riders had in mixed conditions on slick tyres at Assen would have convinced them that they could comfortably negotiate the damp parts of the track on slick tyres. Most of the circuit was dry enough for the riders to push hard and get the tyres up to optimum temperature, which would ensure they had enough grip to get through the wet patches safely. The fact that riders could negotiate the mixed conditions last Sunday safely and at a quick pace is due to the development work we’ve done to improve the warm-up performance and feel of our slick tyres.”

In qualifying on Saturday, Marc Marquez set a new Circuit Best Lap record, beating the existing record that was set on qualifying tyres. Can you explain the basic difference between a qualifying tyre and the regular race tyres Bridgestone now supplies to MotoGP?

 “The old qualifying record at Sachsenring was set by Casey Stoner in 2008 on Bridgestone qualifying tyres when he rode for Ducati. The construction and compounds used in a qualifying tyre are designed so that the rider has extremely high grip levels for a short period of time, at the expense of durability, so the performance level of the tyres would rapidly degrade. These tyres were employed during the era of competition between tyre manufacturers to ensure the riders they supported would qualify in the best possible position.

“It is an excellent indicator of just how important tyres are to the overall performance of a motorcycle, that we can still have lap records that were set on qualifying tyres six years ago; given how much the bikes have developed over the last six years. I am also pleased every time one of these records is broken, especially at a circuit that is as demanding as Sachsenring as to have a tyre designed to withstand at least thirty laps at this track break a record set on tyres that were designed for one or two laps is a significant achievement for us. Marquez set the new lap record on the same tyre combination he used for the race and this shows the versatility of our current crop of MotoGP slick tyres.”

TAGS 2014

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