The Czech Republic Grand Prix restarted the 2011 MotoGP season following a short summer break after the United States Grand Prix, and 238,000 spectators turned out to witness the action at the Brno circuit over the three days.
Apart from a wet morning practice on Saturday, the rest of the MotoGP track-time was dry and the temperature was warm.
The MotoGP weekend marked the first at which the newly-approved tire regulations came into effect, giving riders one more front slick tyre each, a third softer compound option and greater choice of both front and rear slick compound allocation.
Although the effect of the new MotoGP rules, designed to provide softer compounds for increased safety in cold weather, was minimized because of the warm temperature, feedback was good.
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda MotoGP) won the race to extend his championship lead, ahead of Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda MotoGP) and Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini MotoGP) who scored his first MotoGP podium.
On the Monday after the MotoGP race, there was a one-day official test at the circuit for MotoGP teams that was attended by 11 riders, and three different 1000cc machines were tested: the factory Honda and Yamaha and the Suter MVDS CRT effort.
Following is a Bridgestone Tire Debrief with Tohru Ubukata, General Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tire Development Department:
Q. The Czech MotoGP was the first race for the new tire regulations – how well did they work and how much difference did they make?
TU: “From an allocation point of view, the new regulations worked just fine. They mean that we need to bring more tires to each Grand Prix, simply because we are offering MotoGP riders a greater choice, but the system of allocating them is largely unchanged. Once we have prepared the various compound options, it is the FIM’s Technical Director who actually determines which riders get which tires, as by doing it this way round we can ensure complete impartiality.
“Instead of each MotoGP rider receiving six front slick tires on the Thursday of each Grand Prix, he now receives five but can choose an additional four after the second free practice, making a total of nine. Rear slick tire allocation has also changed because riders now receive eight rear tyres on Thursday and can choose two more after FP2, allowing them more of the compound they prefer. These changes mean a little more work from our side, but this weekend the process worked without problem.
“The conditions this weekend in Brno were relatively warm though so there was no problem with warm-up performance, so consequently only Jorge, Alvaro and John used the third soft spec of front tire on Friday morning. For this reason the regulation changes didn’t make such an impact this weekend, but crucially what riders now know is that we have a third soft spec of front slick tire for emergency use in very cold conditions, such as those seen most recently in Germany and Assen.
“The rear tire changes worked well too because clearly the softer rear tire was preferred this weekend and the rule change meant that every rider chose six of this softer option, giving them sufficient pieces to use in every session and still have a new one remaining for the race. Overall, team and rider feedback of the changes is very positive, and I think it will only get more so when we do have another very cold session in which the third front slick option is necessary and really beneficial in terms of safety and warm-up performance.”
Q. What did Bridgestone test during the one-day MotoGP test following the GP?
TU: “We made best use of the opportunity of another official test day and continued with our development of next year’s tires, designed for the new 1000cc engine regulations. We offered one new front slick and two new rears to every MotoGP rider, using a new construction and new compounds.
“The target for next year’s tires is to offer improved warm-up performance and make their characteristics easier to ride. At this stage we are still doing fundamental study work to pinpoint the best development direction for our new family of tires, and today we were able to collect a lot of very valuable data and information so for us it was an important test. I’d like to thank the riders and teams for taking the time in their own busy testing schedules to test our tirres, especially as it was an important 1000cc test too.”
Bridgestone slick MotoGP compounds available: Front: Soft, Hard, Extra Hard. Rear (asymmetric): Soft, Medium
Wet MotoGP compounds available: Front: Soft. Rear: Soft