Bridgestone Explains MotoGP Tire Debacle at Phillip Island

10/22/2013 @ 3:38 pm, by David Emmett20 COMMENTS

Bridgestone Explains MotoGP Tire Debacle at Phillip Island Sunday Phillip Island Australian GP MotoGP 2013 Scott Jones 02 635x423

After every race weekend, Bridgestone issues a press release containing a summary of how they think their weekend went. Normally, they are fairly bland affairs, only of interest to those interested in the minutiae of tire performance and setup. How different is the press release issued after the Australian Grand Prix.

After the debacle of tires not being able to complete an entire race, and compulsory pit stops introduced, Bridgestone’s press release was highly anticipated.

The press release itself is rather disappointing. While the technical details are fascinating on why the tires failed to hold up at Phillip Island, the question of why Bridgestone failed to test at the circuit is merely skimmed over in passing references. The full press release appears after the jump.

Australian MotoGP™ debrief with Shinji Aoki
Tuesday 22 October 2013

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Extra-soft & Soft. Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)

Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo won an intriguing Australian Grand Prix ahead of Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and his factory Yamaha stablemate Valentino Rossi.

The new Phillip Island track surface proved to be unexpectedly harsh on tyres, particularly at the rear, resulting in a decision by race direction – following discussions with Bridgestone – to reduce the race distance to nineteen laps and mandate a pit stop where riders were required to change bikes equipped with a fresh set of tyres.

Q&A with Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department

Last Sunday MotoGP witnessed its first flag-to-flag race in dry conditions. Can you explain what happened at Phillip Island?

“Basically, due to the much improved track surface at Phillip Island this year, the rear slick tyre allocation we supplied for the Australian Grand Prix experienced extreme temperatures which affected their durability. The very high levels of traction offered by the tarmac resulted in some tyres having their tread torn off and cracked – a situation we definitely did not anticipate. When it became apparent that doing the full race distance on a single rear tyre was not feasible, we engaged in discussions with Dorna, the FIM and IRTA, who worked together to find a solution for the race. Considering the tyre allocation we had to work with, I am pleased at the outcome on Sunday as the crowd at Phillip Island, as well as fans around the world got to witness a safe and exciting race. The teams and riders showed great flexibility and professionalism in adapting their programme for a flag-to-flag race and for this they should be congratulated.”

The original announcement of the flag-to-flag race was for a twenty-six lap race, then on Sunday this was revised to nineteen laps. Why was the duration of the race changed?

“The decision by race direction to make a twenty-six lap race came after our advice that the maximum stint on a rear slick tyre must be fourteen laps, following our tyre analysis on Saturday. With our mind on the safety of the riders, we asked the riders to do long runs on the harder option rear slicks In Sunday’s warm up session to see if running conditions were different compared to the day before, which could have a result on tyre longevity. The analysis of the tyres from warm up showed that on Sunday, ten laps was a safer distance on a single rear tyre so for a one stop race, nineteen laps was deemed the best race distance. It seems that the improved setup of the bikes in Sunday warm-up yielded better performance for the riders and hence increased the stress on tyres even further compared to Saturday.”

What was it about the track surface at Phillip Island that caused problems with the tyres?

“We knew that the track had been resurfaced at Phillip Island resulting in the track being more severe and despite having special extra-hard rear slicks delivered to the circuit to address this change, the improvement in the condition of the track surface caused us problems. Although we have to investigate our used tyres and look at telemetry data from the teams to reach a conclusion on all the contributing factors, the overall problem was sustained periods of very high tyre temperature that before this weekend, were unprecedented at this circuit. Our initial findings suggest it wasn’t just the vastly increased grip of the tarmac itself that caused the problem. The lack of bumps in the corners meant the tyres maintained more constant contact with the tarmac and this drove tyre temperatures even higher. When you look at the best race lap time from this year, it is over two seconds quicker than last year, which shows just how much extra traction – and potential for higher tyre temperatures – the new tarmac offers. We expected an increase in tyre temperatures this weekend and prepared for this, but the extreme temperatures that occurred were far beyond our expectations.”

An extra-hard rear slick was tested by the twelve works riders in Free Practice 4, but wasn’t used for the race. Why?

“The extra-hard rear slicks used in FP4 offered no benefit compared to the hard compound slick that was originally allocated to riders. The extra-hard rear slick suffered from the same heat problems and also offered less grip than the hard rear, so it was withdrawn as a race option. Generally, harder rubber compounds offer better heat resistance, yet this wasn’t the always the case last weekend. Our hard compound rear slick fared better than our medium compound rear, but the extra-hard rear slick didn’t cope as well as the hard option. This seems to be another peculiarity with the new Phillip Island track surface and this is something our engineers are currently investigating.”

How will Bridgestone ensure such problems at Phillip Island are not experienced in future races?

“It is evident from what we now know about the condition of the Phillip Island circuit that we will need to undertake testing here before the race in October next year. As Phillip Island isn’t currently used for any IRTA group tests or private team tests, we are currently negotiating a way by which we can test here next year with some MotoGP riders before the next Australian Grand Prix in October. This way, we can use the data obtained to develop tyres that better suit the new track surface.”

Are you confident that with testing, Bridgestone will be able to make tyres that last a full race distance for next year’s Australian Grand Prix?

“Yes, everyone at Bridgestone is confident that if we test next year with factory riders at Phillip Island early next year, we can develop tyres for this circuit that will last the full race distance of twenty-seven laps. It will be a big challenge for us, but one we will pursue diligently. Creating new slick tyres that will have enough durability and heat-resistance on the new surface, yet still deliver the grip levels and warm-up performance that is required at Phillip Island will be made a priority for the engineers at Bridgestone’s Technical Centre in Japan.”

Source: Bridgestone; Photo: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

Comment:

  1. TexusTim says:

    I think Casey might have been available for testing…doesnt he live nearby…doesnt he ride a motgp bike at phillip island like nobody else ? the question begs an answer as it would be obvious after a repave that a test of there tires before the race would be important ? maybe they needed a scpetic in the back of the room..”you really want to do that without a test?”

  2. Peter G says:

    Casey doesn’t live nearby…… He lives about 2,000 km away ( 1,200 miles )

  3. Calisdad says:

    They change rules as often as underwear.

    How about this change: dump the spec tire.

  4. Dan says:

    So some of the tires had problems? Meaning some of the tires did not suffer? Allowing for setup and riding style, all the tires are meant to be equall, lorenzo complaind way back at le mans that the rear tire performance would drop inexplicably fast and without proper reason.

    Bridgestone shrugged the complaint off as an isolated issue. It wasn’t the tip of the iceberg that sent the titanic down, it was what was below the water line, maybe if bridgestone had looked a little more beyond the surface of the issue in le man they might have avoided the most recent issues. Maybe.

    Perhaps some kind of independant audit is required, michellin keen to help out?

  5. jkedsnake says:

    Why would Bridgestone bother? It isin’t like they are going to loose to a competitor, spec tire is bull shit in a prototype racing afair.

  6. Mike says:

    “The decision by race direction to make a twenty-six lap race came after our advice that the maximum stint on a rear slick tyre must be fourteen laps”

    After seeing what Marquez tire looked like after 11 laps I am glad they did not take Bridgestones advice & try 14

  7. claudia says:

    This is exactly why I hate the single tire rule. Garbage!

  8. claudia says:

    I thought the whole point of motogp was to build the fastest bike you can and have the best rider you van afford, rave it. We’ll be calling MotoGP superbike in the next few years. I heard they were thinking about going to a spec-ECU….UUUGGGHHHH!

  9. jet says:

    I dont know about you guys but i smell a rat ass lie.Bridgestone knew all along about the new surface cause they have guys reseaching on what kinda track tires are needed way in advanced and what condition the track is in for the type of tires needed.Do they really think were stupid.Bring back the Michlin Man,bridgestone has dropped to many balls..

  10. Ray says:

    Part of racing is tire management. They should have run a full-length race with no mandatory pit stop. The riders and teams had enough information at the start of the race to come up with a safe strategy that MAY include a pit stop.

    That being said…drop the spec tire!

  11. meatspin says:

    this isnt an indictment of spec tires at all. People dont pay money to see tire companies race, they go to see riders and maybe manufacturers.

    people forget how tire companies used to be kingmakers by flying specials overnight to the track. How was that more fair to the other racers? Answer: It wasnt.

  12. Of course the people at Bridgestone would never come out and say, well we blew it in the manufacturing process, the tires that came out of the mold were just not right, and would’ve failed after 10 laps on any circuit in the world. They would never admit that because that damages their brand, and the CEOs, marketing and PR people would go bananas.

    The Japanese never admit to systemic failures, because that means a loss of face, and then someone has to commit Seppuku to regain it. And just like American and European companies, it would never be the person that is actually responsible who falls on their sword, it would be someone lower down in the organization that they actually need to keep things running smoothly.

  13. TexusTim says:

    @peter G..um he was the closest retired motogp rider available and from the usa australia is 9300 miles so I think 1200 is close when you consider that part of the worlda and the type of rider they would need to do a tire test.I guess you would suggest wayne gardner ?

  14. Norm G. says:

    re: ” the question begs an answer as it would be obvious after a repave that a test of there tires before the race would be important ?”

    no, it’s not obvious. tracks get repaved all the time.

    breaking news…!!! repaving of a track, the direction of which everybody knows, isn’t enough to trigger a test.

  15. Norm G. says:

    Ps: i have just read posts from 11 different people… i can safely conclude 11 people don’t have a clue. it is both scary and depressing at the same time.

  16. tony says:

    norm, lighten up for fucks sake. it aint the indian slave trade (14 million and counting), it ain’t alzheimers research (my grandma). i think you’re an asshole…and a little know it all !

    i’d like to suppeku you…! (that was funny, thx aaron!)

  17. damn says:

    Why are there so many dumb people. Talking about the single tyre rule. Don’t you people forgetting something????? Why is bridgestone the only tyre factory in motogp.??? You can’t remember??? Let me tell you how it all went. We had mijchelin and bridgestone, after a while bridgestone got way better then the michelin tyre and rossi/dani etc wanted that tyre to. Because with michelin you couldnt even make a podium anymore. Riders pushed alot for bridgestone. Michelin didnt want to stay in motogp anymore. And because rossi got the bridgestone tyres suddenly ducati wanted michelin to stay because ducati told this”you cant beat rossi on equell tyres” but michelin still didnt wanted to stay and left motogp. So befor you all are gonna cry about the single tyre factory you must know how things went in the past. THEN we had pirelli….they said yes we want to try but only if bridgestone makes a tyre that performs less. Now thats a realy big compliment to bridgestone!!!!!! But i dont hear any other tyre factory who want to join motogp. And with the weight going up each year and tyres get stressed more and more and bridgestone has to make even way higher performans tyres no other factory wants to join. And if another factory joins, who want to take the risk of the world title at the end.

  18. Spamtasticus says:

    Those calling for an end to spec tires need to remember the fiasco that was laguna just before the change. The race results were split almost perfectly with all Michelin riders behind all Brigestone riders. Regardless of skill or bike.

  19. Ken C. says:

    Everybody is quick to blame Bridgestone for the problems, but Dunlop had the same problems in Moto2, where they are the spec tire. Race direction had to shorten their race from 25 to 13 laps.

    In other words, it’s not just Bridgestone. The track was hard on all tires.

  20. Kev71 says:

    Wow, I’m a little afraid to write anything on this; however, I will fight my fears and say a couple things. First, hopefully the tire manufacturers will use this past weekends debacle as a lesson and test the newly paved track at Indy before the race next year. Second, did DORNA see fit to reimburse the cost of tickets since the races were shortened? My guess is “no” to both.