“Our initial findings suggest it wasn't just the vastly increased grip of the tarmac itself that caused the problem. The lack of bumps in the corners meant the tyres maintained more constant contact with the tarmac and this drove tyre temperatures even higher. When you look at the best race lap time from this year, it is over two seconds quicker than last year, which shows just how much extra traction – and potential for higher tyre temperatures – the new tarmac offers.
“We expected an increase in tyre temperatures this weekend and prepared for this, but the extreme temperatures that occurred were far beyond our expectations.”
An extra-hard rear slick was tested by the twelve works riders in Free Practice 4, but wasn't used for the race. Why?
“The extra-hard rear slicks used in FP4 offered no benefit compared to the hard compound slick that was originally allocated to riders. The extra-hard rear slick suffered from the same heat problems and also offered less grip than the hard rear, so it was withdrawn as a race option.
“Generally, harder rubber compounds offer better heat resistance, yet this wasn't the always the case last weekend. Our hard compound rear slick fared better than our medium compound rear, but the extra-hard rear slick didn't cope as well as the hard option. This seems to be another peculiarity with the new Phillip Island track surface and this is something our engineers are currently investigating.”
How will Bridgestone ensure such problems at Phillip Island are not experienced in future races?
“It is evident from what we now know about the condition of the Phillip Island circuit that we will need to undertake testing here before the race in October next year. As Phillip Island isn't currently used for any IRTA group tests or private team tests, we are currently negotiating a way by which we can test here next year with some MotoGP riders before the next Australian Grand Prix in October. This way, we can use the data obtained to develop tyres that better suit the new track surface.”
Are you confident that with testing, Bridgestone will be able to make tyres that last a full race distance for next year's Australian Grand Prix?
“Yes, everyone at Bridgestone is confident that if we test next year with factory riders at Phillip Island early next year, we can develop tyres for this circuit that will last the full race distance of twenty-seven laps. It will be a big challenge for us, but one we will pursue diligently. Creating new slick tyres that will have enough durability and heat-resistance on the new surface, yet still deliver the grip levels and warm-up performance that is required at Phillip Island will be made a priority for the engineers at Bridgestone's Technical Centre in Japan.”