2013 Motegi MotoGP Tire AnalysisFollowing a controversial Phillip Island, the MotoGP Championship headed directly to Twin Ring Motegi last weekend for the Japanese Grand Prix.
The race was a defining moment in modern MotoGP after Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo took the Motegi win, and kept the title fight going. This will be the first year since 2006 that the fight will go down to the last round.The two-time MotoGP Champion kept the title from Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez by finishing first. The 20-year-old Spaniard – who can become the first rider since Freddie Spencer in 1983 to take a title in his rookie year – finished second. Taking third was a rider who put up a fight for the title throughout the season, but doesn’t have a chance anymore – Marquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa.At Motegi, rain affected all sessions but the race. This caused some issues for teams regarding Bridgestone tire choices.Following is Q&A with Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tire Development Department.Q. How did the changeable weather conditions at Motegi affect Bridgestone’s weekend at its home race?Shinji Aoki says: “The big difference in track conditions between Saturday and Sunday meant that the tire data we collected in qualifying couldn’t be applied on race day, but between our slick and wet tire allocation we were able to manage every situation.“The biggest challenge for us was the lack of dry track time, which meant the teams only had fifty minutes to find a race setup and evaluate the different slick options we brought to Motegi, but our engineers worked closely with the teams to help them find their optimal tire combination for the race. The race pace was very fast considering the lack of track time, and I am certain that if we had just one more dry session earlier in the weekend that we would have seen record race pace at Motegi. In the end though, I am very satisfied with how all our tires performed over the weekend.”Q. Lap times in the wet qualifying session were only eight seconds off the pole position record. Can you explain this impressive feat?Shinji Aoki says: “Just like our slicks, our wet tires are engineered to get the best performance out of the MotoGP machines. The compound technology used in these wet tires is at the very highest level. We always get comments from riders when they use our wet tires for the first time that they are amazed at the grip they offer and how hard they can brake, corner and accelerate on a wet track.“The very high level of our wet tires in combination with the high-grip tarmac at Motegi yielded some very quick lap times and the top factory riders were exceeding three hundred kilometers per hour at Motegi, which was only around eight kilometers per hour slower than what they achieved in the dry! This shows just how much performance the Bridgestone wet tires offer.”Q. How did the new softer rear slick tyre allocation perform at Motegi and is this something you will maintain for next year’s Japanese Grand Prix?Shinja Aoki says: “The revised rear slick allocation at Motegi, which used options one step softer in our compound range compared to last year, is part of our long-term strategy to promote use of both rear tyre options for the race, and in this regard it was successful.“I am certain we will use a similar allocation for next year’s Japanese Grand Prix. All three of our rear slick options were selected in the race, and both rear slick options for works riders figured on the podium. Our new specification hard compound rear slick that received praise from riders at the Misano test in September will be introduced at the next race in Valencia, and I am confident that this will also give the works riders’ two good race options to suit their respective bike setups and race strategies.”Q. Part of the softer rear tire allocation for Motegi included the debut of a new Super-soft rear slick for CRT riders. What was the rider reaction to this latest development?Shinji Aoki says: “The new Super-soft rear slick was very popular with the CRT riders with all but one of them selecting it for the race. We developed a Super-soft rubber compound that was used on the left shoulder of this new asymmetric rear slick and rider feedback shows that it delivered very high levels of edge grip, with enough durability to ensure consistent performance over race distance.“We will now analyze the data we acquired from this specification to evaluate if this specification can form part of the tyre allocation at other circuits on the calendar in future.”Bridgestone slick compounds: Front: Soft & Medium. Rear: Super-soft (Asymmetric) Extra-soft (Symmetric) & Soft (Asymmetric) Bridgestone wet tire compounds: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)
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This week, in the first segment Editor Don Williams talks to us about the new Kawasaki Versys 650 LT. It’s the middleweight ADV style machine that uses the same 650 parallel twin motor as the Ninja 650, so it’s an excellent performer in a user-friendly, good looking package.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my dearest industry friends—now retired Honda PR executive, Jon Seidel. Jon’s fascinating career spans some 30 years with Big Red, and gave him some great experiences with some incredible machines. I was fortunate enough to be invited on many of the press launches that he organized. His new project is documenting and saving many of the old archives from years gone by—and incidentally, if you have anything that may be of value to the project, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass it all on to Jon.
So on that note, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!