MotoGP Le Mans
The French Grand Prix is the first of the 2010 season for which Bridgestone have selected asymmetric rear slick tires, in response to calls from riders during 2009 for greater use of the multi-compound slicks.
The same asymmetric specifications are available as last year (medium, hard and extra hard), but by incorporating the improved-for-2010 soft and medium compound rubber, they each boast a wider temperature operating range which makes them suitable for a greater number of grands prix when compared to 2009.
Only the harder of the rear slick tyre options in Le Mans is asymmetric though, combining soft compound rubber in the left shoulder with medium compound rubber in the right. The softer option rear slicks are the same as were used in Jerez and use soft compound rubber in both shoulders to cater for low ambient and track temperatures.
The asymmetric rear slicks will provide added durability through the nine right-handed corners of Le Mans without sacrificing warm-up performance of the left shoulder of the tires through the four left-handers.
Last year the track temperature was just 19 degrees Celsius; a far cry from the 49 degrees seen in Jerez last time out. In Le Mans wet tires are also important as the venue has a history of being affected by rain, so Bridgestone have selected the soft wet tires for the French Grand Prix.
Last year the race started wet but a dry line soon emerged, leading to a crucial decision for each rider as to how long to push their wet tyre tires on a drying track and when to scramble into the pits to change to their dry bikes. In the end it was Jorge Lorenzo and the Fiat Yamaha Team who emerged victorious, ahead of Hayate Racing’s Marco Melandri and Dani Pedrosa of the Repsol Honda squad.
Hiroshi Yamada (Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department) says: "Race day at the French Grand Prix has been affected by rain every year since 2005, so it seems reasonable to expect more this year! In contrast to last season though, we haven’t had a wet session since the first Sepang test at the start of February. Rain-interrupted races often produce unpredictable results, like Marco’s fantastic ride to second position in France last year, so I am looking forward to what I’m sure will be another exciting battle at Le Mans."
Tohru Ubukata (Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department) says: "Le Mans is a slippery and smooth circuit and run at a time of year when the track temperature is low, so softer compound tires are required to generate good grip. The circuit has quite a stop-and-go nature which can bunch the field, although the last part of the lap is high speed and requires absolute confidence and commitment. The lateral loads placed on the tires are relatively low, but good stability from the front tyre under braking is crucial.
"The circuit has an asymmetric layout that uses the right shoulders harder than the left, especially on the exit of turn nine, so Le Mans is the first circuit that we are bringing asymmetric rear tires to this year, in the form of the medium spec only. The soft spec rear tyre comprises soft compound rubber in both shoulders; the same as we used in Jerez.
"The weather has historically been very unstable at Le Mans which of course has a significant impact upon bike settings and tyre choice. Our wet tyre compounds remain exactly the same as last year, and again we will bring the soft spec to France, so at least the manufacturers will already have setup data for this situation."
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear: Soft, Medium (asymmetric – Med. only)