For the French Grand Prix, round 4 of the 2011 MotoGP Championship, Bridgestone debuted a brand new asymmetric rear tire.
This MotoGP tire had a soft compound rubber in the right shoulder and extra soft compound rubber in the lesser-used left shoulder.
Conditions all MotoGP weekend were fine with only a brief rain shower on Saturday morning, and the lap times on the new tire were very fast.
Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner was fastest all weekend and dominated the race to take victory after an early battle with teammate Dani Pedrosa.
Pedrosa and San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli collided on lap 18, resulting in a broken collarbone for Pedrosa and a ride-through penalty for Simoncelli, which demoted him to fifth at the finish.
The French MotoGP battle for what became second was fought between Andrea Dovizioso who claimed his first podium of the year, Valentino Rossi who clinched third and his first podium for Ducati and Jorge Lorenzo. Pedrosa set a new lap record whilst Stoner set a new total race time record.
Hirohide Hamashima (Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division)
Q. Did the new rear tires provide a performance advantage at Le Mans MotoGP?
HH: “I can say from the laptimes, and from riders’ feedback, that yes our new soft asymmetric rear slicks were another step forward in performance. For the laptimes from the very first practice session on Friday morning to be under the lap record is almost unheard of and something we at Bridgestone are very happy about. Of course, the tires cannot take all the credit because an enormous amount of work has been done by the teams and the Hondas in particular were very fast this weekend, but the tires play a crucial role in translating machine and MotoGP rider performance to the track.
“The extra soft compound rubber in the left shoulder of the rear tyres provided the riders with better feeling in the early laps, especially given the cold morning conditions in France. In the morning the track temperature was as low as 23 degrees Celsius yet still performance was good enough. By contrast, on Friday afternoon the track was 45 degrees and still riders dipped beneath the lap record on the same soft rears, indicating that not only does this new tire provide better warm-up and rider feeling but it also has a wider operating temperature range.”
Q. With no tire competition, what is the reasoning for Bridgestone to develop a new MotoGP tire?
“We are always competing against ourselves and we have a goal to produce and make available the best tires we can. Yes, tire development has slowed down since the era of tire competition but this new tire shows that we have not stopped developing tires for MotoGP. We are always listening to the riders, and whilst it is not always possible to meet all of their demands or modify our tires immediately, it is important to us to listen carefully, take notice of what they are asking, and do our best to improve our products for their benefit.
“Our intention in new tire development is to provide an increased margin of safety for the riders in the early stages of each session. I can say that in France our new soft rear slick achieved this target and furthermore laptimes on this new tire were faster than last year which I believe shows very successful development.”