MotoGP tyre regulation changes crucial for cold conditions
The Czech Republic Grand Prix weekend saw the introduction of a change in the regulations for tyre allocation, giving riders one more front slick tyre each, a third softer compound option and greater choice of both front and rear slick compound allocation. Bridgestone motorsport tyre development general manager Tohru Ubukata commented that while the weekend had not shown the true impact the regulation changes should have, it had provided a good trial run for riders and teams, The new rules are designed to provide softer compounds for increased safety in cold weather. Ubukata said the impact on the company was purely in increasing the number of tyres it must now bring to each Grand Prix. The tyre supplier also took the opportunity to continue the development of its 2012 tyres, “designed for the new 1000cc engine regulations”.
“From an allocation point of view, the new regulations worked just fine,” Ubukata stated. “They mean that we need to bring more tyres to each Grand Prix, simply because we are offering riders a greater choice, but the system of allocating them is largely unchanged. Once we have prepared the various compound options, it is the FIM’s technical director who actually determines which riders get which tyres, as by doing it this way round we can ensure complete impartiality.
“Instead of each rider receiving six front slick tyres on the Thursday of each Grand Prix, he now receives five but can choose an additional four after the second free practice, making a total of nine. Rear slick tyre allocation has also changed because riders now receive eight rear tyres on Thursday and can choose two more after FP2, allowing them more of the compound they prefer. These changes mean a little more work from our side, but this weekend the process worked without problem.
“The conditions this weekend in Brno were relatively warm though so there was no problem with warm-up performance, so consequently only Jorge, Alvaro and John used the third soft spec of front tyre on Friday morning. For this reason the regulation changes didn’t make such an impact this weekend, but crucially what riders now know is that we have a third soft spec of front slick tyre for emergency use in very cold conditions, such as those seen most recently in Germany and Assen. The rear tyre changes worked well too because clearly the softer rear tyre was preferred this weekend and the rule change meant that every rider chose six of this softer option, giving them sufficient pieces to use in every session and still have a new one remaining for the race. Overall, team and rider feedback of the changes is very positive, and I think it will only get more so when we do have another very cold session in which the third front slick option is necessary and really beneficial in terms of safety and warm-up performance.”
Ubukata also explained the company’s activities in the Monday testing session: “We offered one new front slick and two new rears to every rider, using a new construction and new compounds. The target for next year’s tyres is to offer improved warm-up performance and make their characteristics easier to ride. At this stage we are still doing fundamental study work to pinpoint the best development direction for our new family of tyres, and today we were able to collect a lot of very valuable data and information so for us it was an important test. I’d like to thank the riders and teams for taking the time in their own busy testing schedules to test our tyres, especially as it was an important 1000cc test too.”
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