Bridgestone heads to Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit for the first MotoGP group test of 2014 on Tuesday, February 4 as the world’s largest tyre maker embarks on its sixth season as the official tyre supplier to the series.
This year’s MotoGP championship sees a change in the classification of motorcycles contending this year’s championship, with two classes — the Factory and Open class machines — lining up on the grid in 2014. Open class motorcycles will have the advantage of having more engines (12) than the Factory class (5) per season, and a greater fuel allowance (24 liters vs 20 liters for the Factory class). However, the Open class bikes will have to use the Dorna-supplied software on the mandated Magnetti Marelli Engine Control Unit (ECU), while Factory class entries can write their own software for the compulsory ECU. Of major importance to Bridgestone at the upcoming Sepang test will be to determine how demanding the Open class machines – with their potentially less sophisticated electronic controls – are on tyres compared to their Factory counterparts.
With this regulation change, Bridgestone estimates the lap times of Open class motorcycles will be much quicker than the CRT machines last year. This means the tyres for the Open class will experience more severe operating conditions compared to the CRT tyres, resulting in overall higher tyre temperatures. To meet this demand, Bridgestone plans to offer more tyres in its heat-resistant construction for 2014, and will review data from the pre-season tests in order to confirm a supply plan for the upcoming season.
In order for Bridgestone and the teams to better examine the performance characteristics of the latest MotoGP machines and tyres compared to last year, for the first Sepang test Bridgestone will supply some new specification rear slicks, as well as 2013 specification tyres, to both the Factory and Open classes. The 2014 specification asymmetric rear slicks will be provided to the Open class in the soft and medium compound, while the Factory class will be allocated rear slicks one step harder; the medium and hard compound. The 2014 specification rear slicks combine many technologies to ensure the optimum combination of safety, durability and performance, including a new construction on the hard compound rear slick for greater grip at high lean angles. The front tyre slick tyre options for all riders at the Sepang test will be the medium and hard compounds.
The 2014 MotoGP World Championship will boast twenty-four riders from ten countries and Bridgestone will once again provide equal support to each rider in its role as Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP. In addition to supporting the group tests, Bridgestone Motorsport engineers will support all the teams in their pre-season testing programs before the MotoGP championship gets underway at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit on March 20.
Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“After the winter break I am really looking forward to seeing the riders and bikes on track again at Sepang. Like all the MotoGP teams, Bridgestone hasn’t been resting over the last couple of months; we’ve been designing, developing and producing new tyres for the riders to evaluate during the pre-season. This year’s testing schedule is particularly hectic with two tests at Sepang, then tests at Phillip Island and Qatar taking place in the next five weeks.
“Pre-season testing is always closely watched by the millions of MotoGP fans around the world and I think the inclusion of the Open class motorcycles will give the first Sepang test an even greater sense of occasion this year. Everyone will be interested to see just how closely matched the lap times are between the Open class bikes with their softer rear tyre allocation and the Factory class machines.”
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“Sepang is a good location for pre-season testing as the weather at this time of year is warm and usually dry, and the layout of the circuit has a mixture of slow and fast corners, long straights and heavy braking zones. This makes the circuit ideal for teams to test their latest components and assess how they work with our 2014 tyres.”
“It will be interesting to see the performance of the new Open class machines and in particular, how severe the more powerful Honda RCV1000R and FTR-Yamaha bikes are on tyres. Although we had the opportunity to gather data from the Open class machines at Valencia last year, the tests at Sepang will give us a clearer indication on the tyre performance of these bikes compared to the Factory class. As always, this first test in Malaysia is very important to our MotoGP tyre development program as the data acquired from this test sets our development path for the rest of pre-season testing and ultimately, the whole of the season.”