Last weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone was a thrilling encounter where Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo claimed his third MotoGP™ win in a row ahead of the Repsol Honda duo of Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa who placed second and third respectively.
After a cold and blustery start to the race weekend, weather conditions for Sunday’s race were more favourable with track temps in the mid 20°C mark, though some light drizzle as the riders lined up on the grid meant tyre choices for the race weren’t confirmed until moments before the action got underway.
Q&A with Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
For the first time, the new specification front slick was available to riders in more than one compound option at Silverstone. Which compound was the preferred option for the race?
The new specification front slick was developed for improved rider feel and warm-up performance and both these characteristics were welcomed by riders in the unsettled conditions we had at Silverstone.
Though the harder front slick was the preferred option over the race weekend, perhaps owing to its slight advantage in braking stability, both front slick options performed well at Silverstone and six of the twenty riders taking part in Sunday’s race went for the softer front slick, including Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner who placed second just three seconds behind race winner Jorge Lorenzo. Also, it was pleasing that both Repsol Honda riders were on the podium at Silverstone as this was the first time they used the new specification front slick in a race.
The weather conditions for much of the race weekend were quite severe. How did this affect tyre performance?
Such conditions as those experienced at Silverstone this weekend were anticipated by Bridgestone, hence our decision to revise the compounds in our rear slick tyres and provide front slick tyres in the soft and medium compounds to maximise warm-up performance.
Track temperatures during some of the MotoGP sessions were as low as 14°C, but our data indicates both front and rear tyres quickly reached their operating temperature window so the compounds we selected were doing their job. There was light drizzle before the start of the race, but the ability of our 2012 specification tyres to get up to temperature quickly allowed riders to settle in a very fast pace from the first lap.”
It seems almost all riders selected the softer rear slick for the race, what were the factors behind this decision?
As the bikes lined up on the grid before the race, some light rain started to fall and it was hard to say if this would continue during the race. This meant many riders made a late decision to swap to the softer rear slick as it would provide better grip if conditions deteriorated, though at a slight expense to durability.
Though the harder rear slick has more durable rubber on the left shoulder, tyre wear for the softer rear slick was well within the acceptable range and lap times for many riders varied over the race distance, rather than continually getting slower. This suggests that although tyre degradation was experienced by some riders, the grip levels changed in a predictable manner and riders could adapt their riding style to suit.
Bridgestone slick compounds available at Silverstone MotoGP: Front: Soft, Medium; Rear: Medium-soft, Medium (Asymmetric). Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative).