Indianapolis Grand Prix debrief with Tohru Ubukata The Indianapolis Grand Prix was again struck by mixed weather, but the outcome was far more favourable than last year. After rain for the first practice on Friday, the following two days were...
Indianapolis Grand Prix debrief with Tohru Ubukata
The Indianapolis Grand Prix was again struck by mixed weather, but the outcome was far more favourable than last year. After rain for the first practice on Friday, the following two days were fine and dry, with a track temperature that reached a peak of 42 degrees Celsius. Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa qualified on pole with a new pole position record, but he and Fiat Yamaha's Valentino Rossi both fell during the race, giving Jorge Lorenzo his third win of the season and halving his points deficit to championship leader Rossi. Alex de Angelis scored his career first podium with the San Carlo Honda Gresini team, and Ducati's Nicky Hayden made a welcome return to the podium at his home grand prix.
Q&A with Tohru Ubukata - Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department
It rained on Friday for the first free practice session but the track temperature was still high. How did this affect the performance of the wet tyres?
"I am pleased with the performance of our hard compound wet tyres because they showed good durability and grip in what were very tricky conditions. The circuit uses part of the famous oval, which is not designed to be run in the rain, mixed with sections designed and built for Formula One and of course MotoGP, so areas of the track are betting at draining water than others. This meant that areas of the circuit were wet, but some drained so well, especially at the back of the track, that they were just damp and so generated higher temperatures and therefore wear in the tyres, especially given the high track temperature. Normally in wet conditions we can expect the track temperature to be around 20 degrees Celsius, whereas on Friday it reached almost 30 degrees.
"In other areas of the track there was a lot of standing water mid-corner which is when the tyres are under their peak load, so for the riders it was very tricky to get a consistent feeling for the whole lap. The only other circuit at which we have used the hard compound wets so far this season is Sachsenring, where again we saw a great deal of standing water, and from both race weekends I can say they are performing well.
"The objective of our tyre design for this season as the Official Tyre Supplier was to maximise the operating range of each compound, of both wets and slicks. I think this was a great factor in the performance of our wet tyres on Friday as they have been designed and engineered to deal with a wide range of conditions, from wet to damp, anyway."
Indianapolis is an abrasive circuit but the weather was cooler on race day. How did this affect slick tyre compound choice?
"The weather and more specifically the track temperature was a big factor in tyre choice on Sunday as it was significantly cooler than during Saturday's qualifying session. In the end, most riders chose the harder option front and the softer option rear slick tyres, but I was pleased with the pace that our softer front tyre enabled the Ducati Team pairing of Nicky and Mika to ride.
"The track surface of the first sector that was newly laid for last y ear's inaugural Indianapolis Grand Prix has matured, so wear rate was lower. The durability and consistency of the softer option were reasonable over a race distance, and the battle between Nicky and Andrea gave us a good demonstration of the crossover in performance of the two compounds."
We saw some leading riders fall during the race. What is it about Indianapolis that makes it a tricky track?
"There are no elevation changes at Indianapolis, andit is often described as a flat track, but actually it is quite bumpy. There are sections in particular around turn two and turn six, just at the point the bike is changing direction or entering a corner, and the bumps can unsettle the balance of the bike and reduce the contact patch of the tyres on the track surface, and this is what caught out some riders during the weekend."