Czech Republic Grand Prix debrief with Tohru Ubukata The Czech Republic Grand Prix was the first race after the mid-season break and represented a welcome return to racing for Valentino Rossi. He won from Dani Pedrosa and Toni Elias to mark his...
Czech Republic Grand Prix debrief with Tohru Ubukata
The Czech Republic Grand Prix was the first race after the mid-season break and represented a welcome return to racing for Valentino Rossi. He won from Dani Pedrosa and Toni Elias to mark his fifth victory of the season and take a 50 point lead in the championship. The weather was fine and hot all weekend, with a track temperature that rose to 48 degrees Celsius during the race. The circuit's surface was re-laid last year and this year a new lap record was set along with a new best pole position time. The heat and the abrasive surface meant that in the race the harder option Bridgestone slicks were the favoured choice for their extra durability: the extra hard compound fronts and the hard compound rear slicks.
Q&A with Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
All riders used the harder compound front tyre and almost all used the harder rear slicks in the race. Why was this?
Some riders used the medium compound rear tyre early in the weekend and in qualifying and it worked well. Valentino used this softer option for qualifying and set a new pole position record, so clearly this option worked very well for him. This is the first pole position record to be set this year, and is significant because qualifying tyres are not used this season, whereas the previous record was set by Valentino in 2006 on qualifying tyres, showing the advances we have made in our tyres.
We saw though that the difference in performance between the harder and softer compound options was not so significant at this circuit as it is quite high grip which means that there was very little lap time advantage in using the softer option.
In this situation, riders will always prefer a tyre that offers greater durability during the race, which is why almost all chose the harder option for front and rear. The track temperature on race day was high and Brno is a flowing circuit that features some high corner speeds and thus tyre loads, so durability for the 22 laps was critical. Over a race distance in these conditions, the harder tyre is able to record a faster overall race time because of its greater consistency and durability, so it was the obvious choice from early on in the weekend.
Valentino proved this on Sunday by setting an overall race time that was 20 seconds faster than his winning time from last year, even though the track temperature reached the hottest of the weekend at 48 degrees Celsius and the grip level was down a little from Saturday when a new pole position best lap was set.
Rossi set this new pole position best on Bridgestone slicks and Jorge also set a new lap record during the weekend. What can you say about this?
Of course I am very happy that our tyres performed well during the weekend and enabled Valentino to set a new pole position best time and a faster race time, and Jorge to set the new lap record. As I mentioned earlier, the pole position best time is important for us as it was set on our race tyres, whereas the existing lap record was set on qualifying-specification tyres. During the race, the two Fiat Yamaha riders recorded a combined total of 29 laps that were all faster than the previous lap record from last year, so we can see that our tyres were comfortably faster this year.
The new best lap times were also set on each of the available rear tyre compounds at the Brno circuit. Valentino combined the softer rear with the harder front for his qualifying lap and Jorge used the harder options front and rear for his lap record, so this is further evidence of the cross-over of the wide performance ranges of our tyres this year.
It is important to note also that the surface at this circuit was new last year, and new tarmac always contains oils that are present from the manufacture and laying process. Over time these oils seep out of the tarmac and onto its surface, which initially makes the circuit more slippery, but given long enough all of the oils will leave the tarmac and its grip will improve. Since last year this is what has happened at Brno, so now we have a circuit which is more abrasive and delivers a good level of grip which certainly helped in setting these fastest lap and race times.