The 13th round of the 2001 MotoGP World Championship was run at the new Motorland Aragon venue in Alcaniz, Spain. It is the first time the premier class has visited the circuit and so was a fresh challenge for everyone. To aid the learning process, and following a request from the Safety Commission, Friday morning practice was reinstated for the grand prix, having been scrapped at the end of the 2008 season, but each session was reduced to 45 minutes to keep the overall track time the same.
Whilst rain was forecast for two days, only the Friday afternoon practice was wet. Starting Sunday’s race from pole, Ducati Team’s Casey Stoner broke away and maintained his lead until the checkered flag, being chased throughout by Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa.
Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo led Ducati’s Nicky Hayden until the final lap when the American made his move three corners from the finish to claim his second podium on Bridgestone tires.
Q&A with Tohru Ubukata – Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tire Development Department
Q. What can you say about the tire compounds selected for Aragon?
Ubukata says: “The conditions gave the opportunity for riders to use all of the tire specs we selected for this race, from the softer and harder front and rear slicks to our soft compound wet tires too, so we got to test all our options.”
“We expected the temperature in this region to be cool in the morning so for these conditions we selected the medium compound front and the soft rear, especially with the addition of the Friday morning practice, and I am pleased with this selection as warm-up performance was good from the start of Friday.”
“In the afternoon we expected the temperature to be relatively higher, so as usual we selected harder compounds for extra durability and consistency. I can say that I am happy with the performance of all our tire specs, and with our compound selection for this grand prix.”
Q. “Why was there a step in front tire compounds from Medium to Extra Hard?
Ubukata says: “Our initial analysis of the circuit and our discussions with the riders who tested at Aragon before the weekend showed us that front tire stability would be crucial, especially under heavy braking into the downhill corners. The medium and the extra hard compound front slicks have a very similar temperature operating range, but we selected the medium compound slicks as they have better grip, and the extra hard compound fronts because they have better stability and resistance to graining that often occurs at circuits that are dusty or have new tarmac.”
“We saw especially on Friday that Aragon required a lot of cleaning, more so than other circuits, and this is why we chose the extra hard rather than the hard compound.”