27 March 2014
Bridgestone: Positive debut for 2014 MotoGP tyres
"There is always an initial period during the pre-season when everyone has to adapt to the new tyres they will be using for the upcoming season" - Bridgestone's Shinji Aoki.
After being heavily criticised by the likes of Jorge Lorenzo in winter testing and practice at Losail, Bridgestone felt its new rear tyres made a 'positive' debut in Sunday's season-opening MotoGP.
“The Qatar circuit is a difficult venue for tyre development due to its low grip, high abrasion levels and cool track temperatures,” began Shinji Aoki, manager of Bridgestone's Motorsport Tyre Development Department.
“Considering the difficult track conditions, I felt it was a positive debut for our 2014 specification tyres and I think the inclusion of the soft compound rear slick added another dimension to the action, particularly in qualifying.
“The whole race weekend was extremely competitive, with the top half of the field separated by less than a second in almost every session and the race itself was also highly entertaining.
“In QP2 the lap time difference from first place to twelfth was only 0.65 seconds which was an unbelievable result, and this was a good indication that the riders have now worked out how to get maximum performance out of our 2014 specification tyres.
“There is always an initial period during the pre-season when everyone has to adapt to the new tyres they will be using for the upcoming season, but I think the performances we saw in Qatar are evidence that the hard work put in by the teams and riders testing tyres in pre-season paid off.”
After again struggling to adapt to the stiffer heat-resistant rubber in practice, Lorenzo moved to fifth in qualifying, third in warm-up - then crashed out of the lead of the race. Lorenzo was one of four Factory class riders to fall during the grand prix. Aoki did not comment on the accidents.
The Factory class had the choice of either the medium or hard rear tyre, with only race winner Marc Marquez using the hard. Repsol Honda rider Marquez set his fastest lap of the race on the final lap, helping him beat Movistar Yamaha's Valentino Rossi by just 0.259s.
“When he tried the hard compound rear slick in FP4, Marc felt that this option offered consistent performance and gave better grip from the centre section of the tyre, which helps provide good drive out of the corners,” explained Aoki. “The more consistent performance and drive grip obviously worked well for Marc's riding style and helped him win the race.
“In comparison, the medium compound rear slick offered a bit better warm-up performance which would benefit riders in the opening couple of laps of the race at the expense of slightly less durability. It was pleasing to see that both of our rear slick options were viable race options at Qatar and we expect this trend to continue for the rest of the season.”
The Open class and Ducati riders had a choice of either the soft and medium rear compounds, with the underpowered Production Hondas all running the soft tyre.
“The soft compound rear slick was chosen by seven riders for the race, including all of the riders on the Honda RCV1000R,” confirmed Aoki. “Both Scott Redding and Nicky Hayden - who finished in seventh and eighth place respectively - managed to set a fastest race lap only 0.8 seconds slower than the best time in the race on the soft compound rear, and on average were about 1.5 seconds per lap slower over the race distance than the leading pack.
“If you see the sector times, the Open-class riders on the soft rear slick were very close in the first three sectors, and only lacked compared to the Factory bikes in the last sector where engine power is the most influential factor. I was happy to see such a positive result from the riders using the soft compound rear slick at Qatar.”
Round two will be held at Austin, Texas where - unlike Qatar - there has been no pre-season testing.
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