Bridgestone defends asymmetric tyre, will offer again

Despite a 'cool' reception from riders in Australia, Bridgestone maintains it is pleased with the performance of its tyres at Phillip Island.
Bridgestone defends asymmetric tyre, will offer again

Bridgestone says it will offer its asymmetric tyre in the final round of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship in Valencia after declaring itself pleased with its performance at Phillip Island.

A year after riders were forced to make a mandatory pit-stop due to rear tyre concerns at Phillip Island, Bridgestone introduced revised rears alongside the debut of its first ever asymmetric front, made up of two compounds.

However, while the tougher rear tyres duly avoided a repeat of last year's issues, cool temperatures late in the race would create issues for riders running the asymmetric front tyre, rather than the standard extra-soft option. Among those to fall were race leader Marc Marquez, podium contender Pol Espargaro and finally Ducati's Cal Crutchlow, who was less than a lap away from a season-best second place.

Despite this, Bridgestone's Shinji Aoki says his firm is content the objectives for the weekend were fulfilled.

"The cool and breezy conditions definitely increased the challenge of racing at Phillip Island which has the highest average speed on the MotoGP calendar," he said. "Tyre performance throughout the twenty-seven laps of the race was very consistent, but unfortunately in the final stages there were a few incidents. The double cooling effect of low ambient temperatures and cool winds have often created challenging conditions in the past at Phillip Island, and last Sunday was another example of how quickly things can change at the Australian Grand Prix."

"Our target for our rear tyre allocation for this year's Australian Grand Prix was to provide tyres that could provide full race distance durability with consistent performance. This target wasn't easy to achieve given how harsh the Phillip Island track proved to be on rear tyres last year, but through a vigorous testing and development programme we could engineer a completely new generation of rear tyres for this year's race to achieve this goal. It was important that these new tyres would last the whole race, yet provide predictable grip throughout their life and I believe we met this target.

"We achieved this by utilising a new range of compounds for the rear slicks, as well as a new construction which we will only use at Phillip Island. Overall I am really happy how our rear tyres performed in Australia, as all weekend the pace among the front runners was extremely competitive, with Ducati, Honda and Yamaha all closely matched. The pace throughout the whole race was quick and consistent and durability exceeded our expectations."

Speaking about the asymmetric front tyre, Aoki believes it was successful in providing good braking and grip, adding that a variant of it will now be made available for use at the season-ending Valencia Grand Prix.

"The rider feedback and data we collected on our new asymmetric front slick shows this new tyre meets our development goal; namely, the same braking feel as a conventional tyre but better grip and warm-up performance on its softer shoulder, which at Phillip Island was the right shoulder. The riders that used this tyre got good braking feel and importantly, didn't feel any difference when transitioning between the zones of different rubber hardness. The fact that most of the riders selected this option for the race reflects just how good they felt riding it.

"What was evident during the race was that with the cool change that occurred, the riders on our softest front slick, the extra-soft option, fared better at the end of the race than those on the soft compound asymmetric front slick, but this was due to this softest slick option working better in extremely cool conditions, rather than being a shortfall of the asymmetric design. Overall, the design of our asymmetric front slick has given riders something they are quite happy with and we will continue to offer asymmetric front slicks in the future, including having a tyre of this type in our allocation for the last race of the year at Valencia."

Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Bradley Smith used the extra-soft front tyre on their way to filling the podium places. Aoki did not address Lorenzo's claim that he had a 'defective' front tyre.

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