Bridgestone to provide asymmetric rear slicks at Portugal MotoGP
The Portuguese Grand Prix represents the third round of the MotoGP season this year, with the event moved to 1 May from its usual October slot following heavy rain in 2010’s GP. With clear skies, Bridgetsone will be able to make use of its asymmetric rear slick tyres, which have been selected because of the imbalanced demands of the circuit. There are nine right-handed corners and only four lefts, and generally the right-handers are faster and generate higher loads, resulting in markedly higher tyre temperatures in the right shoulders of the tyres, especially the rears, as director of Motorsport Tyre Development Hirohide Hamashima explained.
“Estoril features one of the highest top speeds of the season although has nearly the slowest average speed and its main challenge comes from the varied nature of the corners and the imbalance between right- and left-handers. The nature of the track changes from one corner to the next, and the tyres also have to contend with a surface change during the lap after partial resurfacing work conducted in 2006. The combination of fast and slow corners including the fast, long final corner and the very slow chicane demand the use of asymmetric rear slick tyres to balance the tyre temperature in each shoulder and provide consistent grip throughout the lap.
“It’s a slippery circuit so this demands softer compounds to generate grip and good warm-up performance in the left side of the tyres, but the fast and long right-hand corners necessitate harder compounds in the right shoulder of the rear slicks to cope with the increased temperature. The heavy braking points, especially into turn one, require a strong front tyre so we have to achieve a balance with our tyre selection.”
The softer option rear slicks use Bridgestone’s extra soft compound in the left shoulder and medium compound rubber in the right, and the harder option rears feature soft compound rubber in the left shoulder and the hard compound in the right. The temperature is expected to be higher than experienced in Estoril’s October date, but not significantly so as to make a difference to tyre selection. Exactly the same compound specifications have been chosen by Bridgestone as last year.
Hiroshi Yamada, manager of Bridgestone’s Motorsport Department said he was looking forward to getting back into action following a prolonged break in racing: “It’s been four weeks since the Spanish GP because of the postponement of the Japanese GP from last weekend so everyone will be keen to go racing again. The disastrous events in Japan have not affected our MotoGP tyre supply though so there will be no problems in Portugal.
“This year the Portuguese GP has been moved from October but this change doesn’t make a significant difference from a tyre perspective, other than hopefully meaning less chance of rain! The conditions last year at Estoril were very difficult for the riders as the race was the first dry session of the whole weekend, almost exactly the inverse of the conditions we saw last time out at Jerez. Jorge has won this Grand Prix for the last three years so will be a strong force again this season, but after the action-packed last race in Spain there will be many riders looking to make amends and get more points under their belts.
“Our tyre compounds in Portugal are exactly the same as we selected for the race last year when feedback of our extra soft compound was very positive, so I am looking forward to another exciting race followed by a valuable post-race test on Monday.”