For the third of four times this season, the 2013 MotoGP Championship occurred on Spanish soil.
The latest round was the Grand Prix of Aragon this past Sunday, a race that became a duel between two of Spain’s fastest riders – Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo and Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez.
The 20-year-old rookie Marquez got the best of the reigning MotoGP Champion. Lorenzo lead until 10 laps remained. Marquez made a clean pass on Lorenzo, and went on to win his sixth race of 2013 MotoGP, and extend his championship points lead.
Joining Marquez on the podium were Lorenzo and Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi.
The 23-lap race provided the MotoGP teams with many challenging conditions due to the technical layout of Aragon, especially regarding tire wear. But with cool temperatures and dry conditions, the entire grid chose softer rear Bridgestone slicks.
With optimal traction, the pace at Aragon was the quickest since the venue joined the MotoGP Championship in 2010, and many records were broken.
Following is further Bridgestone tire analysis with Masao Azuma, the Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tire Development Department.
Q. Can you summarize how the Aragon Grand Prix went for Bridgestone?
Masao Azuma says: “In summary I would say that it was a pretty good weekend for Bridgestone. We had few incidents over the weekend which is always positive and the pace was quicker than in previous years, with new records set in qualifying and the race, while the overall race time was the quickest ever at this circuit.
“Despite conditions on Saturday morning resulting in minimal running during FP3, the teams were able to find bike setups that got the most out of the tires and as a result, both the qualifying sessions and the race were closely fought. The cooler weather precluded the use of the harder rear slick in the race, and over the race distance both front slick specifications offered strong, consistent performance.”
Q. The weather in previous years at Aragon has been quite varied, was it the same again this year and how did this affect Bridgestone’s preparation for the race?
Masao Azuma says: “Yes, the weather can play its part at this circuit and we did have some overnight rain on Saturday which disrupted FP3. On Thursday, the day before the first practice sessions, track temperatures in the afternoon were around 50°C, while on Sunday afternoon, the track temperatures were some twenty degrees less, so this is a good example of how much things can change at this circuit.
“We planned for this potential for changeable weather through our front tyre allocation, by offering front slick options that were two steps apart in hardness. For example, at most races our front tire compounds are one step apart in hardness such as soft and medium, or medium and hard, but for Aragon our two specifications were the soft and hard compound to ensure the widest operating temperature range.”
Q. Only four riders selected the softer front slick for the race, although two of these riders were on the podium. What advantages does the soft front slick offer over the hard option?
Masao Azuma says: “The soft compound front slick offers better grip on the very edge of the tyre, plus offers better warm-up performance than the hard compound front slick. Hence, it tends to be more popular in cooler weather. That said, even in the warmer afternoon temperatures we saw some riders, particularly from Yamaha, try the soft front slick in FP4 and during qualifying and from this it was evident that with the right bike setup, this option could provide very good performance in warmer temperatures.
“In the end only four riders selected the soft front slick for the race, but leading up to the race more riders were considering using this option due to the cooler temperatures on Sunday. Ultimately both front slick options performed well, the top two riders in the race used the soft option, while a new race lap record was set by Dani on the hard front slick. It was pleasing to see both options perform so well at such a technical circuit as Aragon.”
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft & Hard. Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tire compounds available: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)