Round five of the 2014 MotoGP season takes place at the Le Mans Bugatti circuit in France, a venue that has produced some unexpected results over the years due to its unpredictable weather.
Measuring 4.185 kilometers in length, the Le Mans circuit features a ‘stop-and-go’ configuration with low-speed corners punctuated by a series of short straight sections. The layout places an emphasis on acceleration and braking, rather than outright corner speed and the circuit demands a good bike setup to ensure the tires work in their optimum operating range. The relatively slow corner speeds at Le Mans make the venue the least severe circuit on the MotoGP calendar for tires. The low corner speeds and the generally cool temperatures at Le Mans means that the slick tire allocation for this round uses Bridgestone’s softest rubber compounds to ensure quick warm-up, high grip and excellent temperature retention. There are nine right-hand corners compared to five left-hand corners at Le Mans, so asymmetric rear slicks with slightly harder rubber on the right shoulder are provided to riders for the French Grand Prix.
For Le Mans, Bridgestone’s rear slick tire allocation for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders will be the soft and medium compound options, while the Ducati and Open-class riders will have access to the extra-soft and soft compounds. The front slick allocation for Le Mans will be the extra-soft, soft & medium compound options. To ensure adequate tire warm-up in wet conditions, the main wet tire for Le Mans will be the soft compound although each rider will be able to select the hard compound wet tire if they choose.
Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“After four dominant performances by Marc so far this season, we all await with anticipation to see which rider can stop his run of victories, or if he will continue his domination. The stop-and-go layout of the Le Mans circuit is quite different to the flowing nature of the Jerez circuit which hosted the last round, so it will be interesting to see which riders can use this to their advantage. The layout of the Le Mans circuit and the variable weather always makes it difficult to predict the winner for the French Grand Prix, with few riders able to win the race from pole position in recent times. Once again the Ducati and Open-class riders will have access to the extra-soft rear slick this weekend and with Le Mans being the least severe circuit on tires on the whole MotoGP calendar, it could prove to offer quite a performance boost in both qualifying and the race.”
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport tire Development Department
“Le Mans is an event where we often experience cold temperatures so ensuring good warm-up performance for the tires is very important. The circuit itself is relatively gentle compared to other circuits as well, so our slick tire allocation for the French Grand Prix is formulated from softer rubber compounds to ensure better warm-up and grip. The circuit has a stop-and-go nature and overall, the lateral loads placed on the tires at Le Mans are low which is another reason why we provide softer compounds here. Another performance requirement here is to provide front tires that provide maximum stability under braking.
Bob Ulrich was named Modern Tire Dealer editor in August 2000. He joined the magazine in 1985 as assistant editor, and has been responsible for gathering statistical information for MTD's "Facts Issue" since 1993.