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April 22, 2014

Bridgestone MotoGP Preview: Argentina, Termas de Río Hondo

An engineer mounts a rear Bridgestone BATTLAX slick onto a Repsol Honda.
An engineer mounts a rear Bridgestone BATTLAX slick onto a Repsol Honda.

2014 sees MotoGP return to South America for the first time since 2004, as Argentina’s Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo hosts round three of the season.
 
Measuring 4806 meters in length, the Termas de Río Hondo circuit is characterized by numerous fast, long-radius corners that are expected to result in one of the highest average speeds of the year. The high speeds, hard braking zones and high camber angles of some corners results in this circuit being one of the more severe for tires on the MotoGP calendar.
 
The Rio Hondo circuit has an unbalanced layout with nine right-hand corners compared to just five left-handers. However, the left-hand corners tend to be more severe in nature than the right-handers and in particular corners such as turn six and eleven generate high tire temperatures, so the overall loads placed on the left and right shoulders of the tires are similar. This means the rear tire allocation for this circuit will be symmetric.
 
The overall severity of the Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo means the rear tire allocation features rubber compounds from the harder end of the scale. Rear slick tire options for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders are the medium and hard compound rear slick, while the Ducati and open-class riders have access to the soft and medium compound rear slicks. As the Rio Termas Hondo circuit is a new addition to the World Championship, Bridgestone’s dataset for this circuit is limited, while a wide range of weather conditions could also be encountered. As a result, a special front slick tire allocation will be offered for this weekend’s Argentina Grand Prix to ensure riders have enough options to deal with the potentially variable track conditions. The riders will be able to choose from three front slick options - the soft, medium and hard compound front slicks - instead of the usual two front options offered per race weekend.
 
Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“I am happy to see MotoGP return to South America after almost a decade as it such a passionate region for motorcycle racing. This is an important market for Bridgestone and it pleases me that we will be able to showcase our advanced technology to a whole new audience. The large number of fans present at last year’s test at Termas de Río Hondo was a good indication of the reception we can expect this weekend, and I hope to see a huge crowd welcome the sport back to Argentina. From a racing perspective, none of the factory teams tested at this circuit last year so it will be interesting to see which riders are able to adapt themselves to the demands of this very fast circuit. This weekend will be a busy one for our engineers as they will be tasked with helping the teams get the best out of the tires at this new circuit.”

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