By Stephen English
Tyres have been a key talking point in MotoGP in recent years with a spate of cold-rubber crashes having been triggered by the compounds and construction used by Bridgestone for the control tyre.
The Japanese manufacturer has made huge changes to their tyres for this season, the first of the new 1000cc era, by providing quick-warming but less durable tyres that would inevitably lead to less grip in the closing stages of races.
The Qatar Grand Prix saw some exciting racing and (electronically-controlled) slides throughout the weekend, indicating that Bridgestone has found an acceptable balance between warm-up characteristics and durability.
Riders have also had to change their styles from the precision of the 800cc machines of last year to a new machine with which they are able to use their engine torque more effectively in braking and cornering.
For race winner, Jorge Lorenzo, it was clear just how much more enjoyable the new tyres are to use.
“From lap three you are really sideways,” said the Spaniard. “It is fun to ride because you are always sliding and trusting the traction control but it is not so easy.”
Even though the riders were sliding more in the latter stages, it was clear that the new tyres do not lose too much performance as the race progressed with the podium finishers all setting very consistent laps times.
Third place Casey Stoner even commented that, “Towards the end of the race we actually found that it was much better in the traction area,” when asked about the durability of the new tyres.
“Edge grid was a little bit worse, you know it wants to slide a little more on the entry and the middle but once we picked up the bike we actually found the traction was getting better and better as the race went on.”