The MotoGP paddock travels to the Spanish Motorland Aragon circuit for round 13, and for the second time this season, after the British GP at Silverstone, Bridgestone is faced with the challenge of preparing tires for an entirely new venue.
Run in place of the Hungarian Grand Prix at the uncompleted Balatonring circuit, Motorland Aragon is in the North East of Spain, some 250km from Barcelona. In preparation, Bridgestone carried out detailed inspections and analysis of the track surface and layout and listened carefully to MotoGP riders who have already tested at the circuit this year, albeit not on 800cc MotoGP machines.
The process of preparation started after the Spanish Grand Prix in early May when Bridgestone engineers visited the circuit for the first time. Once at Aragon, the engineers conducted a detailed survey of the circuit, building a picture of how demanding it will be for tires based on the nature and speed of the corners and, importantly, the grain and abrasiveness of the tarmac in order to be able to select the tire compounds best suited to this new circuit; a big responsibility for Bridgestone.
Whilst circuit layout, the nature of the corners and the weather are all straightforward to examine, analysis of the characteristics of the track surface is much more technically challenging yet it is the most important aspect in determining the most suitable tire compounds.
The feedback from riders after they had ridden at Aragon was collated and carefully considered alongside the scientific facts from Bridgestone's detailed technical analysis.
Consequently, the medium and extra hard compound front slicks have been selected, the same specifications as used for the Qatar Grand Prix, and the soft and medium rear slick tires, as used at Jerez.
Hiroshi Yamada (Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department) says: "It's exciting to be heading to another totally new circuit, although the events of Misano are still very much in our minds. The other Spanish races always produce large, enthusiastic crowds and I am sure that Aragon will be no different. It is a new challenge for us, but I am confident our technical department have selected the most suitable tires to enable us to play our part in producing a good race."
"Aragon also marks a temporary return to three practice sessions with the Friday morning session reinstated at the request of the Safety Commission in a trial for next season. Total track time will be the same as the sessions are reduced to 45 minutes each but teams and riders will have to carefully manage their tire allocation for the weekend taking into account the extra session."
Tohru Ubukata (Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tire Development Department) says: "Aragon was another totally new challenge for us so we were methodical and thorough in our analysis of the circuit and the tarmac in order to select the best suited tire compounds. The track surface is relatively smooth and slippery, similar to Misano, so we need good grip which suggests softer compounds, but there are also some long corners and some downhill braking points which require greater stability and thus harder compounds, so it was a balance."
"Conditions during the day are almost the same as in Misano but in the morning we expect it to be a little cooler, so for this situation, especially as we have Friday morning practice back, we have selected the soft compound rear slicks and the medium compound fronts. For the warmer afternoons, we have selected the medium compound rear slicks for their extra consistency and the extra hard compound fronts. From the track layout and riders' feedback, we understand that Aragon requires good front stability more than other circuits and this is the reason that we decide to select our extra hard compound for the front."
Bridgestone slick compounds available:
Front: Medium, Extra Hard
Rear: Soft, Medium