3 years ago
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Bridgestone discusses the tyre choices riders made to suit the unique challenges of racing in Qatar.
Shinji Aoki, Manager of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development, talks about Valentino Rossi's choice of tyres, the difficulties posed by abrasive desert sand and the overall performance of their race slicks on the 26°C Qatar track.
Bridgestone slick compound options:
FRONT: Soft, Medium & Hard
REAR: Soft, Medium (Asymmetric) & Hard (Symmetric)
How do you feel the first race weekend of the season went for Bridgestone?
“To have the top twelve or so riders on different machinery split by one second a lap over a race weekend is a pleasing result as it means our development goal of delivering tyres which are safer and are easy to understand were achieved. The performance of our tyres at a circuit which is quite severe for tyres was also very consistent. Despite Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso riding quite aggressively at the end of the race as they fought for victory, Valentino was able to set his third-quickest lap on the final lap, while the last lap was Andrea’s quickest of the race."
This year Valentino Rossi won the race using the hard compound front slick, ahead of five riders who all selected the medium compound front. What advantages did the hard compound front slick offer over the other options?
“Tyre choice largely comes down to rider preference and Valentino, as well as most of the other Yamaha riders, were very comfortable using the hard compound front slick over the weekend. Compared to the medium front slick, the hard front offered an advantage in braking stability and durability, at a slight expense to warm-up performance and edge grip. The extra durability of the hard compound front slick may have served Valentino well in the final stages of the race, but the most important factor was that he obviously felt the hard front better suited his riding style. What is pleasing for Bridgestone is that our tyre allocation at Qatar provided many different tyre combinations to suit the various riding styles and machine characteristics on the grid.”
The desert sand at Qatar often causes issues such as reduced grip levels and increased tyre abrasion. What was the situation like this year?
“The sand on the track surface was an issue this year at Qatar, but it was nowhere near as severe as in recent years. For Free Practice 1, riders commented that grip levels weren’t optimal with selecting the soft compound front slick at the start of this session to ensure the greatest amount of front-end grip as possible. However, some riders also felt confident using the hard compound front slick in the first practice session, which is an indication that the sand didn’t have a great as an effect as in previous years. Also, the circuit condition improved throughout the sessions and we didn’t see much abnormal wear from the tyres. The fact that five open-class riders selected the soft compound rear slick for the race reflects that high abrasion wasn’t a problem last weekend at Qatar and riders were confident of having strong, consistent performance over the twenty-two lap race from their rear tyres.”
3 years ago
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