2015 Mugello MotoGP Analysis

2015 Mugello MotoGP Analysis from a Tire Perspective
Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone leads Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez

This past weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Mugello was the first of 2015 MotoGP with stable weather conditions occurring throughout the round.

This allowed the MotoGP pilots to get maximum performance out of their tires. One rider who did this better than the others was Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo, who earned his third-straight victory at Mugello following dominating performances at Jerez and Le Mans.

Joining Lorenzo on the podium at Mugello were Ducati Team GP15 rider Andrea Iannone – who set a new Best Lap record of 1:46.489 en route to the pole – and the other Movistar Yamaha MotoGP YZR-M1 pilot, nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, who has yet to lose the points lead since winning round one at Qatar.

Following some tire analysis with Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department:

Q. The Italian Grand Prix was the first race since Argentina when weather conditions were stable over the entire race weekend. Did this have an effect on the riders’ ability to get maximum performance from the tires?

Masao Azuma: “Yes we had reasonably stable conditions at Mugello, we saw at both Jerez and Le Mans that the track temperature on race day was considerably different to the previous days, which compromised some riders’ race setup. Throughout the whole weekend the pace was not only quick but extremely competitive and our revised tire allocation this year helped achieve this.

“Four out of the six slick compound options we brought to Mugello were used during the race, which indicates that there were enough options for the riders to comfortably negotiate this technically challenging circuit. It was good to set yet another qualifying lap record, however it seems the grip available on the circuit wasn’t good on Sunday as it was on Friday and Saturday as we narrowly missed out on setting a new race lap record as well.”

Q. Some riders say that even if track temperatures are similar on race day, the grip level of the circuit during the race can be quite different to earlier on the weekend. Can you explain why this phenomenon occurs?

Masao Azuma: “There are a few factors as to why grip levels can change on race day, although it is difficult to understand all the reasons why. One of the reasons is perhaps down to the bikes themselves, as with a full fuel load and the riders pushing 100 percent in the early laps, the front end of the bike can be placed under huge loads which can result in understeer and other undesirable handling characteristics.

“Another factor could be that after the Moto3 and Moto2 race, there is a large amount of rubber laid on the tarmac on the racing line. This large amount of rubber on some types of tarmac can perhaps cause variable grip levels. When this does happen, it isn’t a major problem however, as most riders can adapt to the situation quite quickly. Also, our front tires are developed to provide good grip levels over a wide range of conditions, so the riders have enough control to manage this change in track behavior.”

Q. The majority of riders selected the medium compound front slick for the race, but some riders were able to produce some impressive lap times using the hard compound front. What different advantages did these two compound options provide to the riders.

Masao Azuma: “Mugello has two distinct features that influence front tire choice. It features some extremely severe braking zones, particularly into turn one, and also several high speed corners and changes of direction.

“For the heavy braking zones, the extra stability of the hard compound front slick makes it an attractive option, and it also offers more consistent performance over race distance. For outright cornering performance, the medium compound has the advantage due to its slightly better edge grip.

“What ultimately decided which front tire each rider used on Sunday was how the particular strengths of that tyre option complemented the riding style and machine setting of each individual. Both front tire options featured in the top five so either one was well suited to the demands of the Mugello circuit.”