Spanish GP: Bridgestone MotoGP Tire Preview
The Spanish Grand Prix at the Jerez circuit is next on the MotoGP calendar, representing the first European event of the 2011 season.
Located near the southern Spanish city of Jerez de la Frontera, the Grand Prix is a classic event on the MotoGP calendar with huge crowds making the most of the Spanish sun to support their national heroes.
The weather in the region during the Grand Prix is usually fine with track temperatures reaching over 40 degrees Celsius, although this year the MotoGP race is being held one month earlier than in 2010 at the beginning of April so we can expect cooler conditions.
MotoGP tire performance last year was good, as Dani Pedrosa set a new lap record, so compound selection remains unchanged this time around with the medium and hard front slicks and the soft and medium rears.
From Bridgestone’s perspective, the MotoGP circuit has a balanced character and places equal demands on the left and right shoulders of the tires.
It comprises eight right-handed corners and five lefts but the nature of the corners generates equal temperature in both shoulders so asymmetric rear MotoGP tires are not required.
In fact, the same medium compound front and rear slicks as used in Qatar MotoGP two weeks ago will again be used in Jerez. Track temperature was around 22 degrees Celsius in Qatar and around 40 degrees is expected this weekend, which demonstrates the wide operating temperature range of Bridgestone’s slicks.
Jerez first hosted a motorcycle Grand Prix in 1987 and one has been held there every year since, although in 1988 it was classed as the Portuguese MotoGP.
Last year, to the delight of the Spanish fans the battle for MotoGP victory was waged in the closing laps by Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo who passed Pedrosa for the lead on the final lap. The first free practice session gets underway at 10:10hrs local time on Friday 1 April.
Hiroshi Yamada (Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department) says: “Qatar MotoGP gave us an idea of what to expect from this season, and based on what we saw there it will be a very hard-fought year of competition indeed, but it is still very early and there is scope for a lot to change in Jerez.
“Jorge and Dani had a spectacular battle for the lead in Spain last year and are both looking fast again, but Casey is also in his element at the moment so will be very fast too. Valentino and the Ducati MotoGP Team also look to be heading in the right direction and for sure are working very hard behind the scenes, and I am sure they will really reap the benefits of this soon. The atmosphere at what is the first European race of the season is always spectacular with over 260,000 fans coming to the circuit last year.
“I was unable to fly from Japan to Qatar for the first Grand Prix because of travel restrictions so I am looking forward to Jerez even more as my first race of the year.”
Hirohide Hamashima (Director, Bridgestone Motorsport Tire Development) says: “Jerez is a technical circuit with a mix of fast and slow corners. It is a good test circuit because of the diversity of the corner layout and this means that we require a tire with a very balanced character to provide good handling from low speed to high and from flat corners to changes in elevation.
“The layout doesn’t generate particularly high loads for the front tire’s center section, and the left and right shoulders are used equally so asymmetric rear slicks are not required here. The surface is smooth, meaning not bumpy, which is easier for the tire’s center section but the grain of the tarmac is abrasive.
“The track temperature during the race weekend is historically high, although the race this year is run one month earlier than in 2010, but coupled with the abrasive surface it adds to the challenge of durability and wear although Jerez is not the most severe from a tyre point of view. Last year tyre performance was good and Dani set the first of eight new lap records achieved last year, so we have selected the same tyres this time around.”
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium, Hard. Rear: Soft, Medium