Catalunya Grand Prix debrief with Tohru Ubukata Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium, Hard. Rear: Hard, Extra Hard (asymmetric) The Catalunya Grand Prix was sweltering, with an ambient temperature of 33 degrees ...
Catalunya Grand Prix debrief with Tohru Ubukata
Bridgestone slick compounds available:
Front: Medium, Hard.
Rear: Hard, Extra Hard (asymmetric)
The Catalunya Grand Prix was sweltering, with an ambient temperature of 33 degrees Celsius and a track temperature that reached 55 degrees Celsius during the race. Catalunya is one of the most demanding circuits for tyres anyway, particularly on the right side of the tyres, and combined with the hottest temperature of the season so far the challenge for tyres was severe all weekend. The race itself got off to a nail-biting start as Dani Pedrosa led into turn one only to run wide, slipping back to 12th. Up front, Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso, Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner were locked in battle, Stoner himself fighting back from running wide. Dovizioso fell which gave Lorenzo breathing space at the front, whilst Dani mounted a remarkable comeback to climb to second, pushed by Stoner to the line. Randy de Puniet also scored his best finish of the season from the front row of the grid, whilst Alvaro Bautista claimed fifth for his best MotoGP finish just ahead of Ben Spies.
Q&A with Tohru Ubukata - Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department
How did the heat affect tyre performance this weekend?
"Track conditions were hot and the ambient temperature was also high which leads to higher tyre temperatures, and this is why we needed to bring harder tyre compounds to Catalunya. Generally I am happy with their performance - in the race we saw that both specifications of front and rear tyre worked, as the top three riders used the harder front and the softer rear, Randy in fourth used the harder rear, and Hector in tenth used the softer front. Our objective since last season has been to select two specifications of tyre per grand prix that can both be suitable for race distance at each particular venue, giving riders a choice of tyres for the race. I am happy that we have achieved that objective this weekend. Our selected tyre compounds were identical this year to last year so it was interesting for me that the rear tyre choice favoured by most riders was the softer option - exactly the opposite of last year at Catalunya when every rider used our harder rear tyre option."
Why do you think this year the softer rear slick was the favoured option?
"I think the fact that most machines could use the softer rear tyre in Catalunya this year shows how the teams have worked hard to improve the way their overall bike packages work with our single supply tyres. The track temperature was slightly higher this year yet still the machines and riders were able to extract relatively more performance from our softer compound rear and, importantly, make it last race distance which they could not do at this race last year. This also shows just how much influence on tyre performance the machine and rider package has, and the importance of a good setup that uses our tyres effectively."
What can you say about tyre performance in general this weekend?
"Generally tyre performance was good, although the track condition was not ideal and this is one of the reasons that ultimately laptimes were slightly slower on Sunday. As we have seen already rear tyre choices were reasonably mixed, but front tyre choice showed much more preference for the harder front slick. Some riders commented that braking stability was affected slightly during the race because of the high temperature, but in these conditions and a circuit like Catalunya that features some heavy braking areas, this is to be expected. Heavy braking generates high loads on the front tyres which translate to increased tyre temperature, especially when the track and ambient temperatures are so high already. As the rubber gets hotter it starts to move more which has a direct affect on front-end 'feel'. Importantly though, the laptimes show the tyre performance to be consistent throughout the race which I am pleased about."