MotoGP: Bridgestone Denies Lorenzo’s Tire Accusations

05/21/2013 @ 3:05 pm, by David Emmett13 COMMENTS


As is customary, the Bridgestone media service issued their post-race debrief on tire performance on Tuesday, in which they discuss how the tires they selected held up during the race at Le Mans the previous weekend. This week’s press release is more interesting than most, as it contains a denial from Bridgestone that there was anything wrong with the rear tire used by Jorge Lorenzo in the race on Sunday, countering claims that his tire was defective.

Speaking to the media after the race on Sunday, Lorenzo said that although he was not a tire engineer, he could think of no other explanation but a defective tire for the complete lack of rear grip he had suffered throughout the race. The setting they had used in the wet morning warm-up had worked well, Lorenzo said. In 2012, under similar conditions, he had not had a single problem, he explained, going on to win the race by nearly 10 seconds.

Lorenzo also pointed to the fact that Valentino Rossi had had problems with a tire on Saturday morning, and had that one replaced, as is allowed under the rules if a defective tire is found. Bridgestone denied on Sunday night that there was a problem with Lorenzo’s tire, and have reiterated their stance in the official press release. The tire was examined by both Bridgestone technicians and Yamaha engineers, and found to have normal wear only.

Shinji Aoki, manager of Bridgestone’s Motorsport Tire Development Department, gave Bridgestone’s official response in the press release as follows: “It was clear during the race that Jorge had an issue as he couldn’t keep the same pace as the leading group. Immediately after the race he had a debrief session with his tire engineer where he explained his lack of rear grip.”

“As is always the case in these situations, his engineer thoroughly examined Jorge’s race tires which were found to be in good working condition. In addition, I examined the tire myself and personally discussed the matter with the Yamaha engineers and we all agreed that Jorge’s lack of rear grip was not attributable to his tire.”

“We received many different comments from the riders after the race on the feeling on the track, even though they all used the same specification of wet tire and endured the same track conditions. In these low grip situations, machine set up is critical as the smallest setting change can have a big effect on performance.”

Whether Lorenzo has changed his mind or not is still unclear, though the 2012 World Champion has gone back and deleted a number of messages he posted on Twitter on Sunday night. No doubt more questions will be asked once the MotoGP paddock arrives at Mugello, in just under two weeks’ time. Below is the full text of the press release issued by Bridgestone today:

French MotoGP™ debrief with Shinji Aoki

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Extra-soft, Soft Rear: Extra-soft (Symmetric), Soft, Medium (Asymmetric)

Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)

Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa won a wet and wild French Grand Prix ahead of second-placed Cal Crutchlow on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 M1 and teammate Marc Marquez who was third.

The riders were met with extremely challenging conditions at Le Mans for the fourth Grand Prix of the year, with wet asphalt and a track temperature of just 14°C at the beginning of the race, and a rapidly drying track surface which caused variable grip conditions towards the end of the twenty-eight lap contest.

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

Cold and wet conditions were forecast for the weekend of the French Grand Prix and this is indeed what happened, can you explain how these conditions affected tyre performance at Le Mans?

“Yes the conditions were as expected but this didn’t make it any easier for the riders! Track temperatures were very cool, as low as 13°C and although we brought our softest tyre compounds to this race, the track didn’t provide the best grip levels, particularly in the morning sessions. The consensus from rider feedback was that tyre warm-up performance over the weekend was good, but even so the cool ambient temperatures and strong breeze meant some riders got caught out during practice and qualifying. The cold conditions also meant that very few riders tried the harder rear slick options as they wanted the best rear grip and warm-up performance possible, which is especially important at Le Mans which has a stop-and-go layout with a lot of acceleration zones.

“Sunday presented a different kind of challenge for the riders as the only time during the race weekend when track conditions were fully wet was at the beginning of the MotoGP race. Although morning warm up was declared wet, it wasn’t raining, so the level of standing water on track was less than at the beginning of the race. With such limited time to find a wet setup and considering that Le Mans requires good levels of rear grip, every rider ended up choosing the softer wet tyres for the race.

No riders selected the harder compound wet tyres for the race, but would this option have worked better towards the end of the race when the track was drier?

“Some riders actually did try the front and rear hard compound wet tyres in morning warm up, and other riders also scrubbed in a set of hard wet weather tyres on the sighting lap just before the race. However, because it was so cold which made the grip level of the circuit very low, every rider decided the soft compound wet tyre was the best choice, and I think this was the right choice given the conditions. Even though the track began to dry towards the end of the race, the rate of abrasion on the soft wet tyre was still within the acceptable range, so I don’t think the harder wet tyre would have given a performance advantage at the latter stages of the race. However, if the track temperature was say, five degrees warmer then I believe we would have seen some riders select the harder wet tyre for the race and this option may have given riders a performance advantage in some areas, particularly when braking.”

Jorge Lorenzo said he had a lack of rear grip during the race; did this have anything to do with his tyre?

“It was clear during the race that Jorge had an issue as he couldn’t keep the same pace as the leading group. Immediately after the race he had a debrief session with his tyre engineer where he explained his lack of rear grip. As is always the case in these situations, his engineer thoroughly examined Jorge’s race tyres which were found to be in good working condition. In addition, I examined the tyre myself and personally discussed the matter with the Yamaha engineers and we all agreed that Jorge’s lack of rear grip was not attributable to his tyre. We received many different comments from the riders after the race on the feeling on the track, even though they all used the same specification of wet tyre and endured the same track conditions. In these low grip situations, machine set up is critical as the smallest setting change can have a big effect on performance. In any case it was a shame for Jorge as he was so strong in morning warm-up and we all expected a better result from him, but he is a champion and I know he will be back to his competitive best at the next race.”

Photo: Bridgestone

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

  • First it’s pretty obvious that the Yamaha’s are not as good as the Honda, anybody watching these races can see that, and the Ducati’s are even further behind, so tires can only make so much of a difference, but…

    The tire business has margins that are tighter than most, And they have gotten even tighter since the Koreans got into the business big time, and are now making better car tires then any of the the Japanese, Americans or European tire companies and selling them for less money. Everybody who knows this, buys their tires and is very happy and safe on the road, and they save money, which is very important these days for working people, and working people buy the majority of the tires in the world.

    So it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if some of the people in the tire business, employees who are are being squeezed by ownership perhaps, it wouldn’t surprise me if they can be bought by someone with deep pockets, or perhaps quietly paid off to do a better job of supporting one competitor over another in a racing series. Naïve to think differently. Motor racing in the modern age is about money and image. Winning is much less about the rider or driver whose faster, and much more about those running the operation, who wants it more, and the lengths they’re willing to go to assure their win, so that they look good to the big boys upstairs, upstairs where they want to be someday.

    In this respect it’s not unlike war, ultimately it comes down to what are you willing to do, how far are you willing to go to claim victory. These days companies are buying whole racing series, just so they can slap a name on a car, see it win, and use it as a marketing tool for their consumer products. In the scheme of things, the name of the rider, or the manufacturer’s name on the bike, like the brand of the tire, becomes increasingly less significant as stakes rise in the margins for profit narrow.

    If international soccer games can be fixed, which can really only be done by buying players and coaches, you think someone can’t fix a Moto GP race, when there are so many avenues open to so many parties, who only need slow a bike down or speed one up, by a 1/2 second a lap. Tires, and who gets the good ones, is perfect, pretty much impossible to prove, since there are so many delicate variables when it comes to construction. The middle batch of tires in a run may be significantly better than those which were first produced, or those that were last produced. All someone has to do is make sure the right team gets the right tires.

    The advantage of having one company making everyone’s tires, it’s much easier to control the variables.

  • JW

    JL keeps digging a deeper hole, he should shut up a race the bike..

  • paulus – Thailand

    Interesting perspective from Mr Brown… a possibility worth considering.

  • GracefurYe

    Aaron B Brown’s conspiracy theory is flawed on so many levels I don’t know where to begin!

    First of all, Korean companies making better car tires than the Japanese and Europeans? Wildly subjective but considering the consensus, plain wrong.

    I work with many people in production car racing and the offerings from Hankook, Kumho etc are nowhere near as popular as Bridgestone, Michelin or Pirelli simply because they aren’t as good, regardless of price. And where are they in moto tires… nowhere?

    Bridgestone is still the largest tire company when sales revenue is considered and for sure other tire companies are cutting into that, but look at the financial times and you will see Bridgestone’s last year profits were up big time, much more then say Michelin. So are they panicked into fudging the results to promote their brand? Ummm no.

    In regards to Bridgestone supporting one rider over the other? Preposterous! And in many ways not possible. The individual allocation of tire to a rider is actually controlled by the FIM who randomly assign barcodes to MotoGP tyres which are then assigned to riders. In a nutshell, Bridgestone isn’t responsible for deciding which tyre goes to which rider. Completely random to ensure transparency, which is how the Japanese like to operate.

    How do I know all this? It’s all publicly available knowledge if you know where to look.

    A rider has a dud race, blames his tire and then the aluminum-foil hat brigade come out of the woodwork. Amazing.

  • Brijesh jagan

    Come on Lorenzo! you are better than this! Quit whining and just race..

  • paulus – Thailand

    The Olympics/tour de France/Tennis/Soccer/Football is corruption free. Err, No!
    There remains the POSSIBILITY that ‘influencing’ actions could be taken…. not they they did, just that it is POSSIBLE.

  • Charles deVitalis

    As a former Dunlop factory sponsored AMA crew chief I can assure you that some “spec” tires are MUCH better than others and bad ones DO end up on race bikes lined up on the starting grid.
    Had it happen to my rider at Homestead in 96, new rear rubber had no grip, we went 2 seconds slower per lap than with worn practice rubbers.
    Dunlop said sorry and keep quiet please.

  • GracefurYe

    Charles DeV, I am sure it does happen from time to time, but obviously in this case if Yamaha agree it wasnt the tire, they saw something in the telemetry that showed them what the problem was.

    The way I see it, tires are an easy scapegoat, if a rider has a bad race its the easiest thing to blame. The thing is if you look at the lap times, Lorenzo was competitive at the beginning and the end of the race, it was the middle of the race where he suffered. This points to something else than a tire, otherwise how can a defective tire ‘come in’ towards an end of a race?

  • alex

    monopolies – you can have any consistency you want as long as you believe how we rate it.

  • Boztich

    Must say that I agree with GracefurYe and Charles deVitalis. Perhaps we have to consider that Lorenzo drove the New M1-chassie in a grand prix for the first time at Le Mans. Ofcourse we know that he’s famous for his race-pace driving on the tests and practice but anyway, this could be one of the problems that kept his bad traction?!

  • How much credibility should any reader lend to anonymous commenters that talk about publicly available knowledge, and publications like The Financial Times? As if the business world operates in anything resembling full disclosure, honesty, ethics, morality or accountability to anyone but the billionaires who control the companies they own, As well as many of the pseudo-journalists at the publications witch report on them. In the new world order, even stockholders are considered suckers to be sheared like sheep at every opportunity. There’s no such thing as democracy or the rule of law in current corporate culture, there’s only what you can get away with, and what you can’t.

    I think it’s funny how people who apparently think themselves adults in this forum, continually come up with these pretensions that only naïve children would swallow. Less likely that they are so genuinely naïve, more likely they are corporate owned shills and PR people themselves.

  • Westward

    I’m inclined to side with A Brown on this one, and can easily believe the scenario presented by Charles deVitalis. I have seen and read about an amazing amount of corruption over the last decade. With single tyre, and electronics, Motogp could easily be fixed.

    I imagine it wouldn’t be too hard to make tyres that suit the characteristics of the Honda over the Yamaha…

    Not saying that’s what happened. But very believeable scenario…

  • GracefurYe

    ‘I imagine it wouldn’t be too hard to make tires that suit the Honda over the Yamaha’

    I agree, it wouldn’t be hard at all. If the tires changed significantly though, the manufacturers would know about it as it would change all their base settings and would come through in the telemetry.

    Couldn’t happen without everyone knowing about it and causing a big fuss.

    It discredits the manufacturers in MotoGP who work hard to beat the competition by saying ‘Oh Bridgestone just made a tire that suits them better’. And I dont think a company like Bridgestone would endanger and OE business by indulging in such practices. Not to mention its not how Japanese companies work. Italian maybe, but not Japanese.