Bridgestone MotoGP Preview: Sepang, Malaysia
The penultimate round of the 2015 MotoGP season takes place at Sepang International Circuit, a circuit defined by its high ambient temperatures, humidity and a fast, technical layout.
Measuring approximately 5.5 kilometers in length, Sepang features a wide variety of corner types - both low and high speed - with its main feature being two long straights that end in extreme braking zones that demand high levels of stability from the front tire. The technical layout generates significant forces and loads on tires and overall the Sepang circuit is one of the more demanding in terms of tire development.
Two of the rear slick options for the Malaysian Grand Prix – the soft and hard options – are symmetric in specification, while the medium rear slick is asymmetric with slightly harder rubber on the right shoulder compared to the left. The rear tire options for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders are the medium and hard compound slicks, while the Aprilia, Ducati, Suzuki and Open-class riders have the soft and medium compound rear slicks available. Owing to its severe braking zones and high ambient temperatures, the front tire allocation for Sepang comprises the two hardest front slick tires in Bridgestone’s range; the medium and hard compound front slicks.
Heavy downpours of rain are not uncommon at Sepang, particularly in the afternoon and as ambient and track temperatures are quite warm at this venue the main wet tire for the Malaysian Grand Prix is the hard compound. The alternative, soft compound wet tire will also be made available to riders.
Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“This weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix is the last of the three back-to-back races and after the breath-taking contest we had last week at Phillip Island, the championship is poised for a thrilling conclusion in the final two rounds. The Sepang circuit is a vastly different circuit from Phillip Island, but like the venue for last week’s round, its layout and climatic conditions create a tough challenge for the riders, their bikes and tires. In recent years we have seen crowds at the Malaysian Grand Prix growing year on year and given the intense championship battle between Jorge and Valentino I hope to see a record crowd at Sepang International Circuit this weekend. This weekend also marks the final round of the Asia Talent Cup and Bridgestone has been extremely proud to be the exclusive tire supplier for this series at it has an excellent platform to help talented Asian riders on their way to a career in Grand Prix racing.”
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tire Development Department
“The Sepang circuit has a varied layout with its main features being its two long straights and high track temperatures, which often rise above 50 degrees Celsius. These factors, along with the track being one of the fastest circuits of the season make this circuit very demanding for tires. The main characteristics the tires need to have at this circuit is excellent braking stability from the front tire and good edge grip and durability from the rear tire. A good bike setup is crucial at this circuit as the grip level of the track isn’t very good and with the high track temperatures, it is easy to overheat the rear tires. Although teams acquired a lot of bike setting data for this circuit from the pre-season tests in February, the track conditions for the race in October can be quite different to those in testing.”