Bridgestone MotoGP: Jerez/Philip Island Tests Debrief
The final MotoGP tests of 2008 took place at the end of last week with eight teams enjoying a two-day test at Circuito de Jerez in Southern Spain and two teams testing at Australia's Philip Island Circuit over three days.
Reigning world champion Valentino Rossi ended the Jerez test as the fastest rider, setting a time of 1' 39.429s on the second day, edging out the Dani Pedrosa's first day fastest time of 1' 39.525s. The test took place over 26-27 November and fourteen riders took to the track over the course of the two days. On the final day, Pedrosa was second fastest to Rossi, whilst the third to sixth fastest riders, Jorge Lorenzo, Toni Elias, Alex De Angelis and Nicky Hayden, were separated by just 0.06s, illustrating the very close level of competition, even for those riders who have changed teams from the 2008 season.
Bridgestone brought the softest compounds proposed for the 2009 season, with two compounds available for each rider. It was the second opportunity for riders to evaluate the 2009 specification tyres, following the post race test in Valencia at the end of October. In particular, Bridgestone was assessing the tyre working range, with Spain providing weather at the cooler end of the spectrum and Australia conditions at the hotter end. Overnight rain meant that no running took place in Jerez on Thursday morning, although significant amounts of running took place during the rest of the test.
At Philip Island, the Suzuki and Kawasaki teams tested, with harder tyres than those used in Jerez. Rain was also experienced here, limiting running, but it was far warmer than in Jerez. MotoGP now enters the test ban period with the next official MotoGP test scheduled for Sepang, Malaysia, 5-7 February.
Q+A with Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
What was Bridgestone's objective from these two tests?
"From our perspective we wanted to assess the suitability of these tyres for next year's races and in particular evaluate the tyre working range. For this we tested in the relatively cool conditions of Jerez, where the ambient temperature was around 12o.C and the track temperature around 18o.C . In the cold, the main consideration is grip levels and warm-up time. Philip Island allowed us to look at the higher range of temperatures, as the ambient temperature was around 25o.C and the track temperature about 40o.C . Here the main consideration is heat durability. In both locations the tyres worked well, so we are confident when we look ahead to 2009."
How big a change is the resurfaced track at Jerez?
"The new surface offers more grip and it is more aggressive on the tyres. Feedback from all the riders has been positive and our tyres seem to work well here, even in the cold conditions and during the initial laps so we should be pleased with this."
How valuable has it been having feedback from so many riders?
"This has been very good and over the course of next year we will have an enormous amount of rider feedback from all of the bikes on the grid. This is very useful for us as a company when we look to future tyre developments. The surprising thing from these two tests has been how positive all the riders have been about our tyres, and how quickly teams and riders have been able to adapt their bikes and riding styles to suit the Bridgestone tyres, even if they were not using them previously."
Will there be much development to the tyres during the test ban period?
"Compared to a competitive tyre situation, we will not be focusing on tyre development. However, there are still minor adjustments to be made, based on the data we have accumulated at these tests and also the Valencia test. Although we will not be developing the tyres as we would previously, we will be working hard. Our new challenge is ensuring that we produce sufficient tyres for all competitors next season and we also have to put all the logistics in place to ensure we provide good and fair service to all teams. This will keep us very busy."