Bridgestone heads down under for Australian Grand Prix
As the first of the final back-to-back pair of overseas races of the 2011 season, the MotoGP paddock heads to Australia’s Phillip Island circuit for round 16 on 16th October, where mathematically there is the first chance for the 2011 title to be sealed.
Phillip Island is an unusual circuit in that it manages to be the least demanding venue on the calendar for the front tyres and the right shoulders of the rears, whilst at the same time the hardest of the year for the left side of the rears.
The weather at the coastal track is often cold and windy in October, meaning that softer compounds are required to generate grip and good warm-up performance, and with only one area of heavy braking front tyre stability is not so critical. But the circuit is fast and flowing, with the highest average speed of any circuit on the calendar, and the last two long left-handers are responsible for the highest rear tyre temperatures of the season.
All of which requires Bridgestone to provide a special construction of rear slick tyre designed to maximise warm-up performance, particularly in the cold morning sessions, whilst also being able to cope with tyre temperatures that can exceed 120 degrees Celsius.
The rear tyres Bridgestone have selected for Phillip Island have been improved since last year, in the form of construction and ability to cope with temperature, so consequently the available compounds are one step softer than in previous years. Both options feature the extra soft compound rubber in their right shoulders for maximum warm-up and rider safety and confidence in the opening laps, and either the medium or hard rubber in the left side. These special construction tyres have already been proved in action this year, at the almost-as-demanding Sachsenring.
As far as front tyre compounds are concerned, they are the same as last year in soft and medium compound guise. Only two front tyre options are available in Phillip Island, as opposed the three that have been offered since the Czech Republic Grand Prix, because the soft compound front slick is already selected for Australia for its warm-up performance advantage so a third emergency spec for cold weather is not needed.
Hiroshi Yamada – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“Casey enters the Australian Grand Prix with a 40 point lead over Jorge meaning that if he wins, which he has done here at his home track for the last four years in a row, he can clinch the World Championship if Jorge finishes fourth or lower so it is bound to be a tense but very exciting race weekend. Phillip Island is an unusual circuit for us because of the disparity of the demands placed on the left and right shoulders of the rear tyres, but I am confident in our tyre offering this year, especially as we have chosen softer rear slicks for increased rider safety in an ongoing drive to provide the best possible warm-up performance.”
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division
“Despite being the highest speed circuit on the calendar with an average speed of over 180kmh, Phillip Island is generally not tough on most sections of the front and rear tyres because of the low ambient temperature and flowing nature that presents only one point of heavy braking in the lap. However the challenge comes from the last two corners in particular, as by stark contrast they generate the highest rear tyre temperatures of the year in the left shoulders. The two corners are long and fast and generate high lateral loads and thus temperature and the stresses demand a special construction of asymmetric rear tyre in order to cope without blistering.
“We have seen in the past that the cold and rain can be important factors so we have selected softer compounds of rear slick tyre this year, the same as we made available in Germany earlier in the year. Using a special construction, the rear tyres we have selected are able to cope with such temperature whilst the softer options will maximise warm-up performance and rider safety in the early laps of each session which is important.”