2014 Aragon MotoGP
The 2014 Aragon Grand Prix presented the season’s most serious challenges this past weekend. The race was held under dry then wet conditions that caused disaster for some, and triumph for others.
Regarding the triumphs, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo was able to secure the win – his first of 2014 MotoGP. The two-time MotoGP Champion played it smart when the rain began, and switched to his rain bike with four laps to go – much earlier than the men who led the race up to that point – Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.
Lorenzo took the lead when both Marquez and Pedrosa crashed their respective RC213Vs that were set up for the dry. The Honda boys would finish in 13th and 14th place, respectively.
As for Lorenzo, he rode a smart race, taking the win ahead of NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro – who joins Team Suzuki MotoGP next season – and Ducati Team’s Cal Crutchlow, a future LCR Honda pilot.
Disaster also struck for many other riders, including Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso and nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP).
With four rounds remaining, Marquez continues to lead with 292 points, 75 ahead of Pedrosa, and 78 ahead of Rossi.
Following Aragon MotoGP, Shinji Aoki, Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tire Development Department, discussed the obstacles the teams and Bridgestone encountered regarding tire issues.
Q. The Aragon Grand Prix race weekend experienced the coldest track temperatures seen so far this year. How did Bridgestone prepare for this, given that in the past much warmer track temperatures have occurred?
Shinji Aoki says: “The Aragon circuit can experience large variations in ambient and track temperatures, so we have to ensure our tyre allocation for this circuit can deal with this possibility.
When developing tires for Aragon, getting the right balance between warm-up performance, durability, and cornering and braking stability is crucial. Our expanded front tire allocation at Aragon this year proved to be well suited to the track conditions last weekend, and although just the soft and medium compound front slicks were used, if we had warmer temperatures then the hard compound front slick was also available to riders.
“For the rear tires, Aragon is a circuit where the very wide operating temperature range of our current generation of MotoGP slicks is of real benefit to the riders. All three rear slick compound options were utilized throughout the weekend, including the race and not only did we have a new Circuit Best Lap record during qualifying, the general comments from the riders is that our tires gave good feedback and consistent performance at Aragon.”
Q. Temperatures were quite cool for Sunday’s race, yet three riders still selected the hard compound rear slick. We’ve seen all three rear slick options being used in a race before, but were you surprised that this occurred last Sunday with such low track temperatures?
Shinji Aoki says: “It’s not a surprise that some riders opted to use the hard compound rear slick in the race, as Marc Marquez was very quick on this option during FP3 when the track temp was around 20°C.
His back-to-back comparison with the medium compound rear slick on Saturday morning showed that Honda were able to extract good performance out of the hard rear slick when track temperatures were cool, so this option was open to them on Sunday when the track temperatures for the race were lower than expected. Some Yamaha riders also evaluated the hard compound rear slick on Saturday, but for them, the medium compound rear slick seemed to work best.”
Q. The main wet tire at Aragon was the soft compound, but most riders had the alternative, hard compound wet tyre fitted to their spare bikes during the race, and used this after they changed bikes halfway through the race. Why did so many riders prefer the hard wet tire over the soft compound?
Shinji Aoki says: “The warm up session on Sunday morning was important as it was the first fully-wet session at Aragon for a couple of years, and it enabled the riders to understand how our wet tires were performing on this circuit. In the warm up session, all the riders except Dani Pedrosa used the soft compound wet tire as this option offers the best warm-up performance and overall grip.
“However, Dani did a very good run on the hard compound wet tires and ultimately finished the session quickest, so I think his performance was the main factor in the other riders having this option fitted to their spare bikes for the race. The balance between outright performance and durability of the hard compound wet tire at Aragon made it the popular choice for the riders on Sunday.”