New tyre regulations and allocation procedure a success after first GP Tyre compounds available: Soft, Medium After a rain-delayed but nevertheless successful opener to the 2009 MotoGP season, and the first race for Bridgestone...
New tyre regulations and allocation procedure a success after first GP
Tyre compounds available: Soft, Medium
After a rain-delayed but nevertheless successful opener to the 2009 MotoGP season, and the first race for Bridgestone as the series' single tyre supplier, Tohru Ubukata reflects on the extended race weekend.
Q&A with Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
How are you feeling after the first grand prix for Bridgestone as the series' sole supplier?
The Qatar night race was one of our most difficult tracks last year because of the cold night-time temperatures and the abrasive nature of the sandy track, so we came here this year knowing it would be challenging for our tyres again. However I am happy with the way our soft and medium compound slicks worked this weekend and I believe the wider operating range of each tyre offered a more consistent level of performance this time. Also I was encouraged that our tyres coped well on this week's sandy conditions.
Did the higher temperatures this year affect tyre performance?
Yes, because the conditions were about 10 degrees Celsius warmer than last year so all the riders favoured the medium compound. Our soft compound suffered graining on the sandy track with the heat and abrasion, but the medium compound worked better in these difficult conditions. Even with the medium compound tyre we had no problems with warm-up performance which was our main problem last year, so it shows the work we have done on widening the operating range of this year's tyres.
Do you think the new tyre allocation process was successful in ensuring fairness to all teams?
We worked closely with the FIM to allocate the tyres on the Thursday before the race. All the allocation was done by delegates from the FIM. We prepared all the tyres for allocation and then the FIM delegates randomly marked tyres for each rider and recorded each tyre's bar code alongside the rider's name. The FIM delegates placed a sticker of the rider's number on each of their 20 tyres, and we then fitted these to the wheels provided by the riders' team. I am quite sure about the fairness as there is no possibility for us to influence the tyre choice for each rider. This is very important for Bridgestone.
Are you happy with the way the new tyre regulations are working?
I am happy with the new regulations and I think they worked well in Qatar. I believe we made the correct selection of two compounds for this first race, and I believe that these options also were ok for the teams. With just 20 tyres per rider, every team had sufficient to complete the race weekend, even though it was extended by one day, so I think new regulation is working ok.
Did the race's postponement until Monday cause any problems with tyre allocation?
We did not allocate any more tyres because of the race's postponement, and all teams were able to complete Monday's warm-up and race using their original allocation of 20 tyres per rider. The warm-up was run twice as all riders completed it on Sunday as well, so this caused some extra mileage and I think some riders would have liked to have had more front tyres, especially of the medium compound, but tyre strategy is a decision for the teams. This is also a very unusual circumstance, but it shows there is sufficient flexibility in the new single tyre regulations.