MotoGP travels to the United States of America for the second time this season for the Indianapolis Grand Prix on Aug. 28, round 12 of the 18-race series.
The inaugural Indianapolis Grand Prix was only held in 2008 but for this year’s MotoGP 1.5 miles of the 2.6-mile circuit has been resurfaced so half the circuit is new, posing a new challenge for Bridgestone’s tires.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, affectionately known as the Brickyard, is formed of three distinct parts; the famous oval, the infield road circuit built for Formula One in 1999, and the opening complex built specifically for MotoGP.
Whereas in past years each section of the circuit has a markedly different surface which offered a different level of grip, now initial feedback indicates that the resurfacing work has made the grip level much more consistent and the tarmac much smoother, which will help the MotoGP riders and also the tires as bumps interrupt the rubber’s contact patch.
In theory this will make it easier on the MotoGP tires as previously the multitude of different surfaces in a lap demanded a lot from them but the surface is also brand new so a relative unknown, although Nicky Hayden did test the new surface after the last American round at Laguna Seca and his feedback was very positive.
Nevertheless Bridgestone’s MotoGP tire compound selections are unchanged this season, although with the addition of the third softer front slick option to maximize warm-up performance and MotoGP rider safety in conditions that are colder than expected.
The circuit’s layout places much higher demands on the left shoulders of the tires and in fact it is one of the hardest circuits of the season for the left shoulders of the rear tires because of the number, length and speed of the left-handers and the abrasiveness of the tarmac.
For this reason it is the only MotoGP this season to which the extra hard compound rear slicks have been selected, although both rear tire options feature Bridgestone’s soft compound rubber in the right shoulders.
Hiroshi Yamada (Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department) says: “This week we’re back in America again, now in the east in Indianapolis as opposed to last time we were there five weeks ago at Laguna Seca on the west coast.
“It’s clear that Indianapolis are working hard for the benefit of MotoGP with all their recent resurfacing work and we are happy to be going again to such an historic circuit. Indy is a vast place so I hope that we can see many spectators in the huge grandstands! Even though Casey’s win last time out extended his championship lead over Jorge, we’ve only just started the second half of the season and there’s a long way to go until the title is decided so I fully expect to see the championship fight really gathering pace in Indy and the remaining six grands prix.”
Hirohide Hamashima (Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tire Development Division) says: “Reports are that IMS have done a great job resurfacing the MotoGP circuit which will make for more consistent conditions this year.
“It won’t change the physical demands placed on our tires, because the corners are still the same and haven’t been re-profiled, so we haven’t changed our compound selection from last year other than with the addition of the third spec of front tire with the new regulations.
“The speed may be a little higher because the tarmac and the grip will be more consistent, whereas in the past there were clear changes in the circuit character from the opening section designed for MotoGP to the Formula One infield to the famous oval. The tarmac is much smoother now which will also help as bumps interrupt the tyres’ contact patch and we saw a few falls last year because of this.
“Indianapolis is a relatively hard circuit for the left shoulders of our rear tires in particular because of the speed and long nature of left-handed corners such as turn one and turn five. Being leaned over for a relatively long time at speed creates some of the highest rear tire temperatures of the year, and for this reason Indianapolis is the only Grand Prix all year for which we have selected the extra hard compound rubber in the left side of the rear slick tires.”
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium, Hard. Rear (asymmetric): Hard, Extra Hard