Round four of the motorcycle racing championship sees the MotoGP paddock travel to Italy and to the fast and flowing Mugello circuit. One of the fastest circuits on the calendar, it is a tough challenge for riders, machines and Bridgestone’s tyres.
There are many traits of Mugello that make it so demanding on tyres: The circuit is grippy and abrasive which means that relatively harder tyre compounds are required; it has many long and high speed corners which require good stability and edge grip from the rear tyres; and the heavy braking areas from speeds of over 320km/h, particularly those downhill, require good stability and strength from the front tyre.
The biggest stress on the tyres though is actually placed on the centre section of the rear tyre, largely because of the speed of the circuit and its abrasive tarmac. Casey Stoner’s lap record, set on Bridgestone tyres in 2008, was at an average speed of 171.6km/h, the second highest of the season behind only Phillip Island.
Last year, Dani Pedrosa set a new outright MotoGP top speed record at Mugello of 349.3km/h. Along with Catalunya, Motegi and Sepang it is the hardest circuit for the centre section of the rear tyres.
The temperature in the region is usually high with a track temperature of over 40 degrees Celsius not uncommon, although last year the Grand prix weekend was blighted by rain.
A downpour before the start meant that the race was declared wet, but the rain had ceased before the lights went green and the track quickly dried, sending the riders into the pitlane to change to dry bikes shod with Bridgestone’s slick tyres.
After a change to slicks on lap ten proved optimal, Ducati Team’s Casey Stoner won from the Fiat Yamaha duo of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, with Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso less than one tenth of a second behind the reigning World Champion.
Hiroshi Yamada – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department says: "Last year the Grands Prix at Le Mans and Mugello were both held in mixed conditions, but I hope that the weather we saw in France this year continues in Italy as it is always a fantastic race for the fans. The Italian passion is everywhere and it is a very exciting race to be involved in."
"After the relatively slow start to the year, the season is really getting underway now and with six races in eight weeks, momentum will be very important for the riders. For us it means that we will transport, fit and strip over 4000 tyres by the end of next month, so whilst they are tested on the track, our logistics will be put to the test between the races."
Tohru Ubukata – Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department says: "Mugello is one of the fastest circuits on the calendar and is tough on tyres because of the combination of this speed, the track temperature which is often high, and the technically demanding nature."
"There are significant elevation changes which cause greater loads on the tyres, especially under braking. The Arrabbiata, Scarperia and Bucine corners are crucial to good lap times here, so the last half of the lap is very important.
"Edge grip is also very important at Mugello as the circuit is very flowing so the bikes spend a lot of time on the shoulders of the tyres. As well as grip, the shoulders are crucial in providing good stability to give the riders confidence and good feeling throughout the lap."
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium, Hard. Rear: Medium, Hard