Bridgestone Talks Tire Challenges at Silverstone MotoGP

Bridgestone Talks Tire Challenges at Silverstone MotoGP
Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo
Bridgestone Talks Tire Challenges at Silverstone MotoGP
Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo

2014 Silverstone MotoGP

This past weekend, the 2014 MotoGP Championship headed to Silverstone in the UK, a circuit that has one of the highest-average speeds.

Repsol Honda RC213V pilot Marc Marquez returned to the top after dominating the entire weekend. The reigning MotoGP Champion led all four free practices, warmup, and then took the race win – his 11th in 12 rounds so far this season.

It wasn’t a runaway victory, though; the 21-year-old Spaniard battled with Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo (YZR-M1), finally getting out front with three laps remaining. From there, he opened up a gap, finishing 0.732 of a second ahead of Lorenzo. Taking the final-podium position was Lorenzo’s teammate, Valentino Rossi.

Until race day, the cool UK weather conditions provided cool track conditions, which affected traction, providing challenges for the spec-Bridgestone slick tires. But come race day, the temperatures warmed tremendously, allowing for some scorching lap times.

Due to this, Marquez was able to record the fastest-ever total race time for a MotoGP race at the Silverstone circuit. Also, Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso (GP13) set a new top speed at Silverstone – 204.18 mph.

For further analysis, following is a Q&A with Shinji Aoki, Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tire Development Department.

Q. This year Bridgestone brought an expanded front slick tire allocation to Silverstone. Was this a positive change for the riders at last weekend’s British Grand Prix?

Shinja Aoki says: “Yes, I think this was a good change. We expanded our allocation to bring our softest front slick option, the extra-soft compound which gives the very best warm-up performance. The riders were happy to have this option in their allocation, particularly for the cool morning sessions as it allowed them to safely get up to speed around the circuit, and helped reduce the effect of the bumps on track.

“As the track conditions improved over the weekend and in the warmer afternoon sessions, the riders then had the soft and medium compound front slicks on offer which gave better cornering and braking stability. So at Silverstone, the riders had a front slick tire compound to manage every situation over the race weekend.”

Q. For most of the race weekend temperatures were much cooler than were experienced last year at Silverstone. What effect did this have on tire performance?

Shinja Aoki says: “Excessively cool conditions always make it harder for riders to get their tires in their optimum temperature range, but once again I think our expanded front tyre allocation helped in this regard.

“Cool and windy conditions are not unusual at the British Grand Prix so we were well prepared for this. The reduced grip in cool conditions also made it more difficult for the riders to deal with the bumpy track surface and especially on the first day of the race weekend, some teams found it difficult to find a setup that got the best potential out of the tires.

“However, our tire engineers worked closely with the teams and riders to help find a solution, and by Saturday afternoon most riders were able to find a setup that used the tires more effectively. The warmer temperatures on Sunday were also a welcome change, as it allowed riders to get their tires in the optimum working range much quicker.”

Q. The Silverstone circuit has one of the highest average speeds on the MotoGP calendar, but also experiences some of the coolest track temperatures. How does Bridgestone manage to provide enough performance for the demands of this circuit, while maintaining high levels of safety for the riders?

Shinja Aoki says: “The mix of high average speeds and cool temperatures does pose quite a challenge for tire development. Last weekend’s FP3 session experienced the coolest track temperature we’ve had all year, just 19°C, yet the average speed this year was over 173 kilometers per hour.

“This means finding a good balance between safety and performance is very important. We developed our Silverstone tire allocation to ensure maximum rider safety – which is always our priority – hence why our front tires featured our softest rubber compounds, while our rear slick allocation was also engineered to work in low temperatures.

“Despite this focus on ensuring rider safety, the overall race time at this year’s British Grand Prix was the quickest ever, so this is a good indication that our tyre allocation for Silverstone not only provided safety for the riders, but offered very good performance as well.”

For a review of the race, visit 2014 Silverstone MotoGP Results & Recap.

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium; Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)

Bridgestone wet tire compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)