Sepang MotoGP: Bridgestone Pre-Race Talk
The week after the Japanese Grand Prix, MotoGP remains in the Pacific for the Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit, held on Sunday, Oct. 10.
The race also marks the 150th premier class grand prix that Bridgestone have supported since entering the sport with Kanemoto and Proton Team KR in 2002.
Sepang has a long lap of 5.548km, second on the MotoGP calendar only to 2010 debutant Silverstone, but unlike the British venue features generally the highest track and ambient temperature of the season which brings its own challenges for riders and tyres alike.
As the track temperature often reaches 50 degrees Celsius or higher, rider focus and concentration, the machines and Bridgestone’s rubber are all tested to the limit.
The humidity is very high and torrential rain is also a feature in Malaysia that has come into play many times in the past, delaying the race start in 2009 and cancelling MotoGP qualifying in 2006.
The circuit is characterised by two long straights preceded by slow corners which demands good braking performance and stability on corner entry, followed by good edge grip on corner exit to maximise straight-line speed.
Despite the fact that the circuit features five left- and ten right-handed corners, asymmetric rear tyres are not required as the tyre temperature of both the right and left shoulders is relatively equally balanced. Both tyres need a strong centre section because of the high speed and track temperature.
The 2009 title was sealed by Valentino Rossi in Malaysia, and this year Fiat Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo has the opportunity to seal his first premier class crown at the Asian venue.
With a 69 point lead over title rival Dani Pedrosa on the Repsol Honda RC212V, Lorenzo needs to score just seven points or a top nine finish at Sepang if Pedrosa does not start.
This would leave Lorenzo with a lead of 76 points with three races remaining, securing him the World Championship.
Hiroshi Yamada (Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department) says: “The Malaysian Grand Prix has long been a successful event for us, from our first victory in 2005 with Loris (Capirossi) and Ducati to Casey Stoner’s victories in 2007 and in the rain last year, when Valentino lifted his seventh premier class title and his second on Bridgestone tires.”
“It is fitting that we celebrate our 150th grand prix here, and I am excited that we have come so far in just nine seasons. For two years in 2007 and 2008 the championship was decided in Japan, and now it seems that Sepang is the favorite as Jorge has the opportunity to do so again this year! But as the battle for third overall still rages, I am sure we will continue to see some very exciting battles for the rest of 2010.”
Tohru Ubukata (Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tire Development Department) says: “Sepang features a mix of high speed corners, long straights and tight hairpins so it is a tough challenge for our tires.Our front slicks are subject to the greatest forces at Sepang and need to have a strong centre section and offer good braking stability as riders brake from over 300 km/h to around just 80km/h into the hairpins.”
“Good grip from the edge of the front and rear tyres is also important because of the lateral loads generated through the long and fast corners, and the hard acceleration from the hairpins demands good traction from the edge of the rear tires.”
“Tire durability is crucial here as the high ambient and track temperatures mean that there is little cooling effect during the lap, but we visit Sepang for winter testing and have a good track record here in the past, so everyone has a great deal of tire data to help refine their setups.”
Bridgestone slick compounds available:
Front: Hard, Extra Hard.
Rear: Medium, Hard