Bridgestone Round 3: France GP Qualifying

Bridgestone Race Report

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear: Soft, Medium (asymmetric – Med. only)

Bridgestone’s slick tyres were put to the test again today as the track temperature at Le Mans reached its highest yet at a peak of 44 degrees Celsius. Even in such conditions, Valentino Rossi used a soft rear Bridgestone slick to set a pole time 0.8seconds faster than the existing lap record.

The track conditions changed markedly from the morning’s free practice to the afternoon’s qualifying session. In the morning, the track temperature was just 25 degrees Celsius and the performance of both the harder and the softer rear options was similar.

In the afternoon when the track temperature had risen to 44 degrees, still both tyres performed well indicating a temperature operating range of more than 20 degrees Celsius for each specification.

This characteristic is a real achievement of the single tyre era that translates to much better production road tyres.

Almost all riders favoured the harder option front slick tyre as the stiffer rubber affords greater stability under braking, which is crucial at a stop-and-go circuit like Le Mans. Only Mika Kallio used the soft front Bridgestone slick.

Jorge Lorenzo was second fastest and Dani Pedrosa third, the top three separated by just 0.16seconds. Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden line up on the second row of the grid, alongside Frenchman Randy de Puniet in sixth.

Tohru Ubukata (Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department) says: "The temperature continues to be very high for Le Mans, but even if we could have predicted such temperatures here we would not have changed our compound selection. Although the track temperature is high, the surface is smooth so a softer tyre is needed to generate sufficient grip.

"We have also seen that even the soft rear can cope very well with a track temperature increase of almost 20 degrees Celsius, and I can say that we still have some temperature range left in both specifications so durability tomorrow will not be a problem. Wear rates were good after the qualifying session, even on the soft option rear, and Le Mans is a circuit that is not too demanding on tyres because of a lack of many long and fast corners.

"For tomorrow’s race the harder option front tyre looks to be the riders’ preferred choice, although rear tyre selection is likely to be more mixed based on machine setup and rider preference. Riders who want better outright edge grip will favour the softer option, but riders who want improved traction and stability through the right-handers will favour the medium rear tyre as this is the advantage given by the asymmetric construction."

Pos Rider Team Fastest lap Gap Compounds – Front, Rear
1 Valentino Rossi Fiat Yamaha Team 1m33.408s Medium, Soft
2 Jorge Lorenzo Fiat Yamaha Team 1m33.462s +0.054s Medium, Soft
3 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team 1m33.573s +0.165s Medium, Soft
4 Casey Stoner Ducati Team 1m33.824s +0.416s Medium, Soft
5 Nicky Hayden Ducati Team 1m33.845s +0.437s Medium, Soft
6 Randy de Puniet LCR Honda MotoGP 1m34.074s +0.666s Medium, Soft
7 Andrea Dovizioso Repsol Honda Team 1m34.204s +0.796s Medium, Soft
8 Colin Edwards Monster Yamaha Tech3 1m34.304s +0.896s Medium, Soft
9 Loris Capirossi Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1m34.306s +0.898s Medium, Soft
10 Aleix Espargaro Pramac Racing 1m34.514s +1.106s Medium, Soft

Weather: Dry. Ambient 25-27°C; Track 41-44°C (Bridgestone measurement)