Bridgestone Reviews “Tricky” Estoril MotoGP Conditions
With much of the Portuguese Grand Prix weekend washed out, the challenge for riders was always going to be how well they coped with using slicks for the first time in unhelpful conditions on the Sunday afternoon race. Tohru Ubukata, manager of Bridgestone’s Motorcycle Tyre Development Department discussed the challenge for the tyre supplier after the race: “On Sunday for the race the challenge was for the slick tyres, which were being used for the first time during the weekend. The track conditions were very slippery and greasy because of all the rain and no dry running and the teams and riders had no time to work on their dry setups, and this situation always makes it very demanding for the tyres. Still, even considering this our slick tyres performed well and offered good warm-up performance which we knew would be important here.”
Ubukata was pleased with the way the wet tyres had behaved in changing conditions for the rest of the weekend: “Because every session for the first two days and warm-up on Sunday was wet, every rider only used wet tyres which meant the most wet running we have conducted all season. In this form the challenge for our wet tyres was displacing such a lot of standing water, coupled with the cold weather. Our wet tyres are designed to go from full wet to almost dry conditions, to the point at which slick tyres can be used, and they managed this well in the drying afternoon session on Friday, but the sheer amount of rain that fell this weekend made conditions really very difficult. It is unusual for a qualifying session to be cancelled because of the weather, but this indicates just how bad it was.
The wet conditions were something of a novelty for the sole tyre supplier to MotoGP: “We used more wet tyres this weekend than we have done all season so we were able to gain a lot of data from them and validate our durability data across a range of conditions from full wet to drying. Although it made the riding very tricky and uncomfortable for the riders, we were able to get value from the wet sessions for these reasons.”
Ubukata also explained the importance of the tyres’ warm-up performance in changing race conditions: “It is important to remember that the riders were going out onto a patchy wet track using slick tyres for the first time all weekend, having to get straight into a race rather than having the usual time to refine their dry setups. This meant that the teams were relying on setup data from last year, and the riders had no feel for the circuit on slicks. For these reasons, warm-up performance was even more important than normal in giving the riders confidence in the opening laps. Unfortunately for Ben he crashed on the sighting lap, but the feedback from the riders about warm-up performance has been positive, especially for the extra soft compound that we used in the left shoulders of our rear tyres so I am satisfied with the way our slicks worked in these conditions.”
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