Bridgestone, MotoGP's exclusive tyre supplier, is to introduce a new asymmetric rear slick for this weekend's French Grand Prix at Le Mans.
The new tyre is Bridgestone's first soft asymmetric offering, and combines soft compound rubber in the right shoulder with an extra-soft compound in the left side. Le Mans has nine right-hand turns, but only five left-hand corners.
Initially scheduled for first use at the postponed Japanese Grand Prix, Le Mans now represents the debut for this tyre, which should provide better initial grip and warm-up performance in the cold conditions that can be expected in France.
The nature of the Le Mans circuit is also slippery, meaning softer compound rubber is required to generate good grip.
“We developed the extra soft compound at the end of last year and used it in Portugal and Valencia, but over the winter we have incorporated it into a soft compound asymmetric tyre which is totally new,” explained Hirohide Hamashima of Bridgestone's Tyre Development Division. “It is designed to work when the conditions are colder to warm-up faster and provide riders with better feeling in the first stages of use.”
“[The new tyre] shows that we are not resting on our laurels and still working hard and constantly developing our MotoGP tyres, listening closely to the riders in an effort to provide them the best possible tyres in terms both of performance and of course safety,” added Bridgestone Motorsport manager Hiroshi Yamaha.
A medium asymmetric rear will also be available, together with soft and medium front-tyre compounds. Rain has often been a factor at Le Mans and Bridgestone will once again bring its soft-compound wet tyres.