Le Mans Bugatti Circuit
French Grand Prix debrief with Hirohide Hamashima
Bridgestone slick compounds available:
Front: Soft, Medium
Rear (asymmetric): Soft, Medium
For the French Grand Prix, Bridgestone debuted a brand new asymmetric rear tyre; soft compound rubber in the right shoulder and extra soft compound rubber in the lesser-used left shoulder. Conditions all weekend were fine with only a brief rain shower on Saturday morning, and the laptimes on the new tyre were very fast. Casey Stoner was fastest all weekend and dominated the race to take victory after an early battle with teammate Dani Pedrosa. Pedrosa and Marco Simoncelli collided on lap 18, resulting in a broken collarbone for Pedrosa and a ride-through penalty for Simoncelli, which demoted him to fifth at the finish. The battle for what became second was fought between Andrea Dovizioso who claimed his first podium of the year, Valentino Rossi who clinched third and his first podium for Ducati and Jorge Lorenzo. Pedrosa set a new lap record whilst Stoner set a new total race time record.
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division
Did the new rear tyres provide a performance advantage at Le Mans?
“I can say from the laptimes, and from riders’ feedback, that yes our new soft asymmetric rear slicks were another step forward in performance. For the laptimes from the very first practice session on Friday morning to be under the lap record is almost unheard of and something we at Bridgestone are very happy about. Of course, the tyres cannot take all the credit because an enormous amount of work has been done by the teams and the Hondas in particular were very fast this weekend, but the tyres play a crucial role in translating machine and rider performance to the track.
“The extra soft compound rubber in the left shoulder of the rear tyres provided the riders with better feeling in the early laps, especially given the cold morning conditions in France. In the morning the track temperature was as low as 23 degrees Celsius yet still performance was good enough. By contrast, on Friday afternoon the track was 45 degrees and still riders dipped beneath the lap record on the same soft rears, indicating that not only does this new tyre provide better warm-up and rider feeling but it also has a wider operating temperature range.”
With no tyre competition, what is the reasoning for Bridgestone to develop a new tyre?
“We are always competing against ourselves and we have a goal to produce and make available the best tyres we can. Yes, tyre development has slowed down since the era of tyre competition but this new tyre shows that we have not stopped developing tyres for MotoGP. We are always listening to the riders, and whilst it is not always possible to meet all of their demands or modify our tyres immediately, it is important to us to listen carefully, take notice of what they are asking, and do our best to improve our products for their benefit. Our intention in new tyre development is to provide an increased margin of safety for the riders in the early stages of each session. I can say that in France our new soft rear slick achieved this target and furthermore laptimes on this new tyre were faster than last year which I believe shows very successful development.”