2012 MotoGP Championship
Round two of the 2012 MotoGP season produced a thrilling encounter at the Circuito de Jerez with the unsettled weather conditions not dampening the spirits of the huge crowd that gathered to cheer on the first European race of the season.
Reigning MotoGP champion Casey Stoner rode his Repsol Honda RC213V to a first ever victory at the Jerez circuit ahead of Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo in second place, while Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa was third.
Rain fell throughout the weekend minimizing dry-running time and conditions for the race were less than ideal with some damp patches on track following an early afternoon downpour that resulted in the Moto2 race being prematurely ended under a red flag.
Q&A with Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Trre Development Department
Q. Weather conditions were extremely variable over the race weekend at Jerez. How did the tire options selected for the race perform in these challenging conditions?
Masao Azuma says: “The intermittent rain that fell over the weekend caused the track to be damp, but not fully wet at times which aren’t ideal conditions for wet tires. However we have experienced such conditions before at Jerez both during last year’s race and during pre-season testing, so after analyzing tire data we decided for this race to make the hard wet compound the main wet tire available to riders. The decision to make the main wet tire the hard compound was validated during Friday practice as the extra durability of this option allowed it to more effectively deal with what were damp track conditions with no standing water.
“The slick tire options we provided performed very well in the race, with the soft rear slick tire providing good warm-up performance in the cool conditions while showing consistent grip levels throughout the 27-lap race. Both front slick tire options used in the race worked well, with the top three riders using the medium compound front slick tire while the fastest lap of the race was set by a rider utilizing the new specification front slick tire in the hard compound.”
Q. With the wet weather at Jerez, how did the recent change in wet tire allocation regulations affect tire choice?
Masao Azuma says: “The change in regulations meant that riders could choose up to two front and two rear wet tires in an alternative compound which for Jerez was the softer compound. Many riders selected this softer option as part of their allocation, but mainly for use in qualifying if conditions were wet. As qualifying turned out to be dry, the softer spec wet tire was used by some riders in Sunday warm-up but had the race been wet, it is more likely that riders would have used the hard compound wet tire for its better durability.
“What was revealed this weekend is that riders appreciate having an extra option of wet tire as it gives them greater flexibility with their tire choice when dealing with variable weather conditions and so this new regulation is already proving to be beneficial to riders.”
Q. For the race, most riders chose the new specification front slick tyre in the hard compound, while the rest of the field selected the medium compound. What benefits did one option offer over the other?
Masao Azuma says: “Unfortunately due to the bad weather, riders didn’t have adequate time to test every option of slick tire offered, though the two front slick tires chosen by the riders performed well during the race. The medium compound front slick tire warms-up faster than the harder option and as riders were not sure if light rain would fall during the race, the medium compound slick tire would deal better with a reduction in track temperature compared to the harder compound.
“The harder option offers rider greater durability and every rider that chose the harder compound option did so in the new specification front tire that made its first race appearance at Jerez. Those riders who tried the new specification front slick tire during qualifying claimed it immediately felt better due to the greater feel it offered through the front-end. Some riders who didn’t get the chance to try the new specification front slick tire during qualifying still selected it for the race as they had previous good experiences with it at the Jerez IRTA test in March. This is very encouraging as it shows that the new front slick tire fulfills its key technical objectives of providing enhanced rider feel and improved warm-up performance.”
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium, Hard. Rear: Soft, Medium
Bridgestone wet compounds available: Hard (Main), Soft (Alternative)