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MotoGP riders pushing for revised front tyre design

24 June 2013

Criticism of Bridgestone's MotoGP front tyre construction, voiced last year by Repsol Honda riders Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa, appears to be returning.

The new softer construction was created in response to a series of cold-tyre incidents in the final season of 800cc racing, in 2011.

Designed to 'enhance feel and warm-up performance' the new tyre was subsequently offered for evaluation during winter testing with the new 1000cc machines.

All but the Honda riders appeared to prefer the revised construction, which was then made available as an additional option for the early 2012 rounds. After consultation between Bridgestone, Dorna, the FIM and IRTA, the new tyre took over as the only front construction available from Silverstone onwards.

Speaking shortly before the British MotoGP, double world champion Stoner had said: “A few other people like it and obviously the CRTs seem to enjoy it more, for exactly the reasons that we don't enjoy it. It is softer in the casing. It squishes a lot more, there's a lot more movement in the middle of the corner and on the brakes. We just don't find anything good about it. I don't think I'll be the only one complaining as the season goes on.”

Despite winning with the new front tyre for the first time at the following Assen round, Stoner's view remained unchanged:

“For me the front tyre still has no stability. When you go in and brake hard it wants to fold or chatter. At the start of the race a lot of times the front was just closing - in slow corners, fast corners, right or left. Any corners, the front just gave up. It seems like not a racing tyre, but we are trying to do our best. I don't know how the crashes were in the race, but I believe from [losing] the front.”

Stoner retired at the end of last year, but fast forward to Catalunya 2013 and similar comments could be heard not just from runner-up Pedrosa, still at Repsol Honda, but also Yamaha's race winner Jorge Lorenzo.

“When I tried to be a little faster in the corners I could feel that the front was not really taking the energy,” said Pedrosa, currently leading the world championship. “There is not much you can do except move your body, to try not to push too hard on the front.”

“The real problem was that the front tyre was probably too soft, like in every race,” commented Lorenzo. “We are trying to speak to Bridgestone to give us harder compound at the front, but for the moment it is not arriving. I hope in the next tracks it will arrive because in some braking [areas] it is a little dangerous.”

In the five dry events so far this year, the factory riders from Honda, Yamaha and Ducati have all chosen to race with the harder compound of front slick on offer. In the case of Catalunya, the hard front was the hardest available for any circuit.

Echoing the words of Stoner in 2012, Valentino Rossi feels that the real issue is not the compound, but the construction.

“With the soft casing of the front tyre - this front tyre was done for safety reasons, to have better warm-up, but with the 800,” said the seven time MotoGP champion, who has returned to Yamaha from Ducati this season. “Now the [1000cc] bikes are faster and heavier and the tyre is too soft. Jorge has some compliant, but also for me - I suffer more.”

When asked about Stoner's opposition to the tyre and why most riders had appeared to support the softer construction, the Italian added: “I was still with Ducati and I said, 'look, for me, I am in the sh*t anyway!' So it was a decision that was taken.

“I remember last year speaking with the Yamaha guys and saying 'are you sure the Yamaha is okay with the softer casing?'...But yes, Casey was right. Also [in the Catalunya race] there were many crashes from the front [of the bike], because with the hot temperature and these tyres.”

During the post-race Catalunya test, Bridgestone offered a development rear tyre, but there was no word on a revised front design.

“Our MotoGP tyre development program is constantly developing new experimental tyres, and at the post-race test at Montmeló on Monday we tested a new hard compound rear tyre,” said Bridgestone's tyre development manager Shinji Aoki.

“The rider feedback regarding this latest evolution of tyre is that it is a big step in the right direction, so we will continue working down this development path. We are also considering other technological developments in regards to the rubber compounds of our rear slick tyres that we plan on providing for testing purposes later this year.”

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