Bridgestone tyres: technology for the Official Tyre Supplier era As the Official Tyre Supplier to the MotoGP series until 2011, Bridgestone faces new challenges in providing its tyres to all 11 teams and 18 riders. One of these challenges is...
Bridgestone tyres: technology for the Official Tyre Supplier era
As the Official Tyre Supplier to the MotoGP series until 2011, Bridgestone faces new challenges in providing its tyres to all 11 teams and 18 riders.
One of these challenges is to make a championship control tyre with a construction suitable for all teams and riders. To address this, Bridgestone has drawn upon its experience of competing in the top series of motorcycle racing since 2002 to develop a new tyre construction and compounds for 2009.
Bridgestone has adopted a focus from 2009 to supply tyres which deliver consistent performance to enhance the competitive spectacle of each MotoGP race whilst contributing to the safe running of each bike and rider package.
This has led to the development of tyres designed with a wider operating range, explains Tohru Ubukata, Bridgestone Motorsport's Manager of Motorcycle Race Tyre Development. "The 2009 tyre compounds have a flatter temperature curve, meaning they work over a wider range of temperatures. There is less difference between the level of grip when the tyre is at peak operating temperature compared to when cold or hotter than optimum.
"Developing a tyre construction suitable for all teams was a challenge, but fortunately we supported all bike manufacturers in 2008 and Bridgestone has good relationships with all the teams so this helped us modify last year's tyre construction appropriately. We have focused this development on the front tyre from last year that was favoured for consistency, and the rear tyre designed to operate at a higher working temperature.
"The wet weather tyre compound has also been developed to be suitable for a wider range of conditions. We have modified the compound durability of this tyre which has allowed us to cancel the intermediate rain tyre as the wet tyre can cope with conditions from damp tracks to torrential rain."
A single compound of wet tyre is offered per grand prix, and two compounds of front and rear slick tyre are available each weekend. For the whole season, a total of four front compounds and six rear compounds of slick tyre have been developed.
"The fronts are available in soft, medium, hard and extra hard compounds, all of which have been set for the year" continues Ubukata. "The rear Bridgestones are available in soft, two medium, two hard, and one extra hard compound. We had originally planned for seven rear tyre compounds, but as a result of good winter testing we saw that the soft compound covered the same conditions as the extra soft so we were able to cancel the extra soft compound.
"From Catalunya we will introduce an asymmetric Bridgestone tyre, which we will also use at the Sachsenring in the first half of the season. This tyre will have different compounds on the left and right shoulders to better suit the nature of the circuits, for example where there are many more right handed corners than left, to keep optimal temperature in all corners."
Crucial to the official tyre supplier era is the allocation process at each weekend, and Bridgestone has worked extensively with the FIM (Fe de ration Internationale de Motocyclisme) over the winter to develop this procedure.
Hiroshi Yamada, Bridgestone Motorsport's Manager of its Motorcycle Sport Unit, continues: "Bridgestone's focus is to ensure the fair allocation of tyres to all riders, and to leave absolutely no doubt about equal treatment, Bridgestone plays no direct part in the tyre allocation process. Once the tyres arrive at each grand prix, the FIM randomly apply stickers displaying each rider's number to the tyres to denote which tyre is destined for which rider.
"After this process has been completed, there will be 20 slick Bridgestone tyres (eight fronts and 12 rears) with each rider's number sticker on them, and eight wets. These are then grouped into stacks for each rider by Bridgestone, and the unique barcodes of each tyre scanned by FIM officials to register each tyre to each rider.
"These records are held by Bridgestone and the FIM, and during all sessions FIM officials scan each tyre used to ensure that each rider is using the tyres registered to him. This process ensures both fair allocation of tyres to each rider and means that it is impossible for riders to swap tyres during a race weekend."