Bridgestone compounds available: Front: Wets - Hard Slicks - Hard, Extra hard Rear: Wets - Hard Slicks - Medium, Hard After a weekend of scorching weather, Malaysia delivered a truly tropical rainstorm just before the scheduled start of the...
Bridgestone compounds available:
Wets - Hard
Slicks - Hard, Extra hard
Wets - Hard
Slicks - Medium, Hard
After a weekend of scorching weather, Malaysia delivered a truly tropical rainstorm just before the scheduled start of the MotoGP race, causing it to be delayed by 35 minutes. Every rider started on Bridgestone's wet tyres, and it was the only race of the season to be run in its entirety in wet conditions. Out front, Casey Stoner delivered a dominating performance from fourth on the grid to lead at the end of the first lap and never looked back in a masterful display that earned him his fourth win of the season and his 20th on Bridgestone tyres. Before the race had begun Jorge Lorenzo was forced to start from the back of the grid, handing the advantage to his Fiat Yamaha teammate and championship rival Valentino Rossi. Mid-way through the first lap however the two met in the midfield before slicing their way to the front. After closing on Dani Pedrosa in the latter stages of the race, Rossi finished on the final step of the podium to claim the 2009 World Championship title.
Q&A with Tohru Ubukata - Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department
During the weekend the track temperature was very high, but what is unusual about Sepang in this respect?
"Yes, Sepang is often very hot and this of course brings its own challenges for tyres, but the main difference is the balance between tyre temperatures front and rear. Normally the front tyre operates at a much lower temperature than the rear, but in Sepang the temperature of each is more similar. This is because Sepang is a circuit that loads the front tyre much more but is not so hard on the rear tyre. In fact, over the weekend we saw the hottest front tyre temperatures of the whole season which gives you an idea of the loads the front tyre was put under there."
From tropical heat we went to tropical rains for the race. What can you say about that?
"Actually I was surprised with the pace that Casey was able to set right from the start of the race in very wet conditions.The circuit did not dry too quickly and so was wet and slippery for the whole race, yet the best lap was only 14 seconds slower than the outright lap record set by Valentino on Saturday, and around the 5.5km lap in full wet conditions this is impressive. Even in the wet the track temperature was very high, reaching 38 degrees Celsius by the end of the race. This is much higher than we would normally see in wet conditions."
Rossi's outright lap record on Saturday seems to suggest that tyre performance in Malaysia was good?
"Yes, in general I am happy with the performance of both our available compounds this weekend, but Valentino's lap was very impressive indeed. The track temperature at the end of the session was 52 degrees Celsius yet Valentino set his fastest lap on the softer front tyre and the softer rear tyre which shows that even in the high heat they had a suitable level of durability and good overall performance. For sure the track condition is getting better year on year as the asphalt matures and it was at its peak during the qualifying session. The lap record also shows the level of development of the bikes that the teams are achieving, and this is very impressive, but it brings its own challenges for us as our tyres have to deal with ever-increasing speeds and loads."
Why during the qualifying session did the tyre choices of riders vary so much?
"During the weekend the overall performance of both compounds was very similar, which is why at the end of the qualifying session the tyre choices amongst the top five riders was so varied. Some favoured the softer options, like Valentino, whilst other riders used a harder front and Casey set his best using the harder rear too. With the overall performance being so similar, the reason for the varied choices came down to how the character of each tyre suited riding styles and machine setup. Put most simply, the harder specification offers good braking stability whilst the softer option gives good cornering performance. With the slick tyre choices the riders had made ahead of the race, I think that if it hadn't have rained we would have seen a good race between the warm-up performance of the softer slicks and race-distance durability of the harder tyres, but anyway it was a very good race with some very close battles on our wet tyres."