Bridgestone begins post-season MotoGP testing after Pedrosa victory
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa finished his most successful MotoGP season with victory at Valencia, having started in the pit lane after making a late decision to swap to slick tyres. He crossed the finish line in spectacular style, 37.661 second ahead of his nearest competitor, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Katsuyuki Nakasuga, gaining his first ever MotoGP podium. In third place was Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner, ending his MotoGP career with a podium. San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Michele Pirro scored the best CRT result of the season by finishing in fifth place, having dared to start the race on slick tyres. Immediately after the MotoGP, Bridgestone kicked off developments for 2013, with a test somewhat compromised by continuing damp weather.
Many damp patches greeted riders on the sighting lap but throughout the track a large dry line was apparent, so tyre choice for the race was not decided until the very last moment. Seven riders selected slick tyres on the grid, while a further four riders changed bikes during the warm-up lap for a total of eleven starters on slick tyres. The softer slick options, the soft compound front and medium compound rear slick, were the only dry tyres used during the race. Among the eleven riders that started the race on wet tyres, seven selected the harder front option, while six selected the harder rear option. All the riders that started on wet tyres pitted and changed to bikes with slick tyres within the first five laps of the race.
Hiroshi Yamada – manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department, summed up the tyre supplier’s feelings on the season-ending race: “What an amazing finish to the season we had today! Congratulations to Dani for scoring his seventh win of the season, but I am also very pleased for Nakasuga-san on his first MotoGP podium and that Casey was able to stand on the podium in his final race. Also, well done to Aleix for ending the season as the top CRT rider in the first year of this new class. With the conclusion of another exciting season Bridgestone now looks to the future and the post-season test next week will form the basis of our MotoGP tyre development programme over the winter break.”
Manager of the Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department, Shinji Aoki added: “It was expected that we would have wet weather today but the condition of the track for the start of the MotoGP race was just dry enough for some riders to consider slicks, although almost every rider originally planned to run on wet tyres. Of those riders that did start the race on wet tyres, the majority went for the alternative hard option wet tyre as this specification provides better durability on drying tarmac. Ultimately though, every rider switched to the softer option slick tyres during the race despite the track being quite damp off the racing line which unfortunately caught a few riders out. Overall it was a very challenging race, but our tyre allocation provided options that were well suited to the variable conditions.”
Pedrosa explained the last-minute change of bikes to ride on slicks: “On the grid I was expecting to do a few laps on the wet tyres before changing bikes, but while waiting for the start the track became dry enough for slicks. On the warm-up lap I wasn’t sure if I had time to change my bike, but I was able to enter pit lane and change quickly. The start was the most critical point and from then I just focused on having a good race. It was hard to keep concentration once I had my large advantage but in the end it came out alright and I am very happy to take this win for my fans and my team.”
Shinji Aoki described the flurry of activity on the grid, as riders sought the best way to tackle a drying track: “The starting grid before the race was extremely busy with many teams rushing to change tyres between the different specifications of wet tyre as well as changing from wet to slick tyres. This was because riders could see that despite the track being mainly wet a prominent dry line had begun to appear and would only get more pronounced if no further rain fell.
“Our recommendations were based on the conditions at the start of the race and so for those riders which wanted to use the wet tyre, we recommended they use the alternative option, hard compound wet tyre for greater durability on the drying track. However, many riders correctly predicted that no further rain would fall and so decided to use slicks in the hope that the condition of the track later in the race would better suit them and in this case the softer front and rear slicks were the only viable option. As we saw during the race, this decision paid off for many riders, but also caught some riders out when they drifted off the dry line.”
Aoki said he was pleased with the way the softer slicks had performed, given the conditions: “Two of the key technical requirements we engineered for our 2012 specification slick tyres were greater warm-up performance and enhanced rider feel and both of these traits were important in the conditions that we experienced on Sunday. I think it was the ability of our tyres to get up to operating temperature so quickly that convinced so many riders to start the race on slicks.”
Pedrosa on top in Valencia post-season testing
In a wet and cold Valencia, Bridgestone’s first chance to test its “two experimental tyres” was quickly passed by, as most riders were unable to try out the new rubber in the small windows in which a dry line was available. However, two CRT riders, Randy de Puniet and Karel Abraham, were able to evaluate the experimental soft rear slick, with early signs “encouraging” according to the tyre supplier’s engineers.
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa continued his race-winning form in the Valencia Grand Prix to clock the overall quickest time in the post-season test at Circuit Ricardo Tormo. His benchmark time of 1:32:322 was impressive given the less than ideal condition of the circuit on Wednesday, with damp patches off the racing line and a track temperature of just 16°C. All riders who recorded laps on slicks bettered their times set in the wet on Tuesday.
Apart from a brief three lap window at the beginning of the day, the whole of the first day of testing took place in wet conditions. A dry line began to show towards the end of the second day testing, resulting in a flurry of activity in which thirteen riders took to the circuit. The only specification of slick tyres used during the test were the softer option front and rear slicks, with the exception of Puniet and Abraham.
Masao Azuma, chief engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department, said: “The weather for the Valencia test was for the main part even harsher than experienced over the race weekend and this limited the amount of time riders spent out on track. We had brought two experimental tyres for the riders to assess but unfortunately the damp and very cool track surface limited their use. None of the works riders were able to assess our new hard rubber compound, but two CRT riders tried the new soft specification rear tyre and commented that it provided a good improvement in rear grip which is encouraging.
“Overall, it was very positive to see the quick pace shown by the riders in the difficult conditions as it shows the confidence bestowed by our 2012 specification tyres. Bridgestone also had technical staff present at the Aragon circuit on Wednesday where Yamaha Factory Racing was testing but there was limited running there also due to rain. Our focus now shifts to our winter development program and we plan to have a new batch of test tyres on hand for riders to test at the first pre-season test for 2013 at the Sepang in February next year.”