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April 29, 2014

Argentina MotoGP debrief with Shinji Aoki

New circuits offer a host of challenges for Bridgestone engineers to solve.
New circuits offer a host of challenges for Bridgestone engineers to solve.

Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa secured a Repsol Honda 1-2 result at last weekend’s Argentina Grand Prix ahead of Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo. The race marked the first ever MotoGP race at the Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo, with the circuit achieving the second highest average speed on the MotoGP calendar thanks to its fast, flowing layout and a high grip surface.
 
Track conditions change significantly over the race weekend, with wind-blown sand creating a very abrasive, yet slippery surface on Friday. As the track surface saw more use, it improved every session and reached its peak condition for Sunday’s race.
 
Q&A with Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport tire Development Department
 
Aoki-san, Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo was a new addition to MotoGP in 2014, but how much did the test at the circuit last year help in your preparation.
 
“For the test last year, the track was extremely dirty and the pace was much slower than we saw on the race weekend. However we were still able to assess which parts of the circuit were more severe, take tarmac samples and see how the behavior of the MotoGP machines on the track which helped us develop a good tire allocation for the race. Also, although the track had a large amount of sand on it last year, it means we were prepared for similar conditions this year, especially in FP1. This is why we saw high rates of rear tire wear in the first session, and then a return to normal tire wear in the following sessions and the race. This was the main reason we decided to make three options of front slick tire available to riders in Argentina, as we knew track conditions would change significantly between Friday and Sunday.”
 
All riders in the race used the harder of the two rear compound options available to them. Was this purely down to the severity of the circuit on tires, or were there other factors that lead to this identical tire choice?
 
“All our tire options for the Argentina Grand Prix were developed to handle the demands of the circuit, but the harder rear slicks offered more consistent performance over race distance. I think this is why every rider chose this option. Also, as this is a new circuit the teams didn’t have any data on how their bikes would consume tires during a full race distance, so it made sense to choose a harder rear tire to ensure better durability. The weather also had some influence on the decision, if track temperatures were lower for the race than perhaps some of the Factory-class riders may have considered using the medium compound rear slick. Many Factory and Open-class riders made their best lap time in the last few laps of the race. This means that both the medium and hard specification rear slick worked very well at this severe track for tires. We are happy about this result.”
 
Bridgestone supplied symmetric rear slicks for the Argentina Grand Prix, but usually asymmetric rear slicks are supplied at other circuits. Are there any other races this year where we will see symmetric rear tires?
 
“The Argentina Grand Prix is the only event where we will supply symmetric rear slicks this year. For the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez, previously we’ve always offered symmetric rear slicks but for this year we’ve developed new asymmetric rear slicks for this circuit. Using asymmetric rear slicks you can really fine tune your compound hardness on each shoulder of the rear tire to suit the characteristics of each circuit. For Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo we felt symmetric specifications would work best and judging by the performance of our tires in Argentina it was the correct decision.”

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