Bridgestone provides asymmetric MotoGP tyre for Le Mans
Bridgestone is at Le Mans this weekend for the fourth round of the 2012 season, where it will provide an asymmetric rear tyre to deal with the demands of the circuit’s emphasis on right-hand turns. Hiroshi Yamada, manager at Bridgestone’s Motorsport Department, said: “Le Mans is a special place to visit with the large crowds and history of the venue combining to create a unique atmosphere and over the years the French GP has provided some very challenging races due to the poor weather conditions encountered at this time of year.
“Once again this weekend we will provide two of the new specification front slick tyre to each rider which at Le Mans will be available in the medium compound.” The layout of the Le Mans Bugatti circuit features many slow corners connected by a series of straight sections and the second half of the circuit comprises mainly right-hand turns that require the provision of asymmetric rear slicks.
While the dynamic forces placed on tyres at Le Mans are the least severe of any circuit on the calendar, with often cool conditions allowing the tyre supplier to bring softer compounds to the circuit, Bridgestone will use the soft asymmetric rear slick – featuring extra-soft rubber on the left shoulder and soft compound rubber on the right – to combat the imbalance in corners during the second half of the lap. The tyre is making its first appearance in 2012 and will be offered alongside the medium compound rear slick. To ensure adequate tyre warm-up in wet conditions, the main wet tyre for Le Mans will be the soft compound option.
Shinji Aoki, manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department, explained: “Due to its layout and usually low track temperatures, Le Mans is a race where softer compound tyres are required to generate the necessary levels of grip. The circuit has quite a stop-and-go nature with a series of slow corners punctuated with two straights and though lateral loads placed on the tyres are relatively low compared to other circuits, the tyres provided need to offer good stability under braking, particularly at the end of the straight sections.
“The second half of the lap is mainly right-hand turns, causing an imbalance in the temperatures generated across the tyre and so asymmetric rear tyres with comparatively harder rubber on the right shoulder are provided at Le Mans. The weather at this circuit is also very unstable and can have a significant impact upon bike settings and tyre choice.”
Perhaps owing to its stop-and-go layout and susceptibility to unsettled weather, Le Mans has a reputation of delivering exciting racing and for the previous six years only one rider starting on pole position for the French GP has gone on to win the race; Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner in 2011.
Yamada also welcomed back a familiar face to the MotoGP paddock and wished injured rider Colin Edwards a speedy recovery following surgery: “I am happy to hear that the surgery on Colin Edwards’ collarbone was a success and I hope to see him back in action soon. I would also like to welcome back Chris Vermeulen to the paddock as Bridgestone and Chris share some great memories together in MotoGP, particularly his victory at this circuit in 2007.”