2014 Jerez MotoGP Analysis
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez has impressed in the opening four rounds of the 2014 MotoGP Championship. The 21-year-old Spaniard has won every round, which is impressive, but he also won all four from the pole, which is even more impressive.
At the opening three rounds, the reigning MotoGP Champion had used a hard-option slick, while most of the others were on a medium-compound tire. At Jerez, though, almost all of the factory riders were on a hard-option tire due to the extremely hot track temperatures that caused greasy conditions.
Marquez won Jerez MotoGP – his 100th GP race – ahead of Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi and the other Repsol Honda rider, Dani Pedrosa, respectively.
Despite the slick conditions, Marquez was extremely quick, destroying the lap record held since 2008 by Jorge Lorenzo. During qualifying, Marquez set a new Best Lap record of 1:38.120 on qualifying tires.
Following is some tire analysis in the form of a Q&A with Masao Azuma, Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tire Development Department
Q. This was the first time at Jerez where the rear tire allocation was composed entirely of asymmetric slicks. How did these tires perform, and will you keep this specification of rear tire for next year’s Spanish Grand Prix?
Masao Azuma says: “The decision to develop asymmetric rear slicks for Jerez was made after recent advances in our compound technology meant we could supply tires with even better warm-up performance and grip for this circuit. The main objective for supplying asymmetric rear slicks for Jerez was to improve rider safety, but it appears these new tires could also be exploited for the riders for extra performance.
“Over short runs they could deliver very quick pace, as shown by Marc breaking the Circuit Best Lap record from 2008 which was set on qualifying tires. The new asymmetric rears also performed well over race distance, and looking at the lap charts of many riders the difference in lap time from the start of the race to the end was only about half a second, so this shows the tires were consistent and predictable.”
Q. All weekend the conditions were very hot, culminating in the track temperatures reaching 55°C for Sunday’s race. What effect did the heat have on tire choice for the riders, and overall tyre performance?
Masao Azuma says: “It is true that often when hot temperatures are encountered, that riders opt for harder compound options. At Jerez though, this wasn’t entirely the case, particularly for the rear tire.
“Most of the Factory Ducati, Honda and Yamaha riders went for their hardest rear tire option, but amongst the Open-class riders, it was the softer option – the extra-soft rear slick – that was most popular. The reason for this is that Jerez isn’t particularly severe on tires, so the riders knew that they could comfortably manage this option over race distance despite the heat.
Also, the greasy track conditions meant that the Open-class riders wanted as much edge grip as possible and the extra-soft rear slick was the best choice in this regard.”
Q. Bridgestone announced it will be withdrawing from MotoGP after the 2015 season, does this mean tire development will continue at the same pace over the next eighteen months as it did before?
Masao Azuma says: “Yes we will still continue to develop new technologies as we want to leave the championship at the end of next season in the best way possible. It is in our interest to keep our development program going strong right until the end of our tenure in MotoGP, as there is still a lot for us to learn that we can then migrate to our range of motorcycle road tires.
“We are currently developing new advances in technology, particularly for the front tyre that we will be providing to teams for testing purposes in the coming months. People can expect to see some state-of-the-art tyre technology being introduced to the MotoGP™ championship over the next eighteen months.”
Bridgestone slick compounds available:
Front: Soft, Medium & Hard
Rear: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tire compounds available:
Hard (Main), Soft (Alternative – front), Extra-hard (Alternative – rear)