2014 Assen MotoGP Analysis
The 2014 MotoGP Championship headed to the Assen “Cathedral” circuit last weekend for the Dutch Grand Prix.
A mix of wet weather conditions affected not only practice and qualifying, but also the 26-lap GP. But again, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez showed his talent and patience, the 21-year-old Spaniard going on to win his eighth-straight TT.
He was joined on the Assen TT podium by Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso and the other Repsol Honda RC213V pilot, Dani Pedrosa.
The weather conditions provided many challenges regarding tire choices. Bridgestone reports that all except two of the 23 starters at the Dutch TT started on soft-compound wet tires. The two that didn’t – Broc Parkes and Yonny Hernandez – started on slicks.
But after a third of the race was complete, all competitors changed to their second bikes fit with slick tires.
Following is some tire analysis with Shinji Aoki, Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tire Development Department:
Q. Conditions for the start of the race last Saturday at Assen were wet but the track dried very quickly. Are you satisfied with how both the slick and wet tires performed?
Shinja Aoki says: “The kind of mixed conditions that we experienced for the race are really challenging for the riders. Grip levels can change from corner to corner, so the riders need tires that get up to temperature quickly and have very high grip levels.
“The fact that we had almost no incidents during the race and the riders managed to show quick pace on a drying track that still had some patches of water was very positive for us. The wide working temperature range of our slick and wet tires was one of the key factors that allowed the riders to push in the tricky conditions with confidence.”
Q. During Free Practice 3 when the track was only slightly wet, some riders left their box on wet tires only to return to the pits after not even completing a single lap. Can you explain what is happening here?
Shinja Aoki says: “Some riders like to ‘scrub’ a set of wet tires by doing a lap on them in case they need to be used later in a race situation. The purpose of scrubbing is not to remove some kind of coating on the tire as some people believe; rather it is purely a mental exercise for some riders as perhaps they feel more confident pushing on a set of wet tires that aren’t brand new.
“Even when there is no possibility of rain on race day, some riders will still scrub a set of wet tires during the morning Warm Up session in case there is unexpected rain before the race. Technically speaking, a scrubbed wet tire has no advantage in terms of grip compared to a new tyre as our wet tires offer maximum grip at the very beginning of their life.”
Q. No Factory Honda or Yamaha riders tried the hard rear slick over the race weekend at Assen. Was this due to the weather conditions or some other factor?
Shinja Aoki says: “The weather conditions on the Thursday at Assen were well suited for the hard specification rear slick, but as it was the first day of practice, the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders preferred to use the medium rear slick to assess grip levels and find a base bike setup. This is quite a normal procedure.
“Some of the riders planned to evaluate the hard rear slick during practice on Friday, but the weather was much cooler and we had intermittent rain and in these conditions, the medium compound rear slick was the better choice. In any case, the difference between the medium and hard specification rear slicks provided for Assen are quite close, so if track temperatures for the race were towards the forty degree range, some riders would have selected this option.”