Bridgestone aiming for a ‘perfect ten’ at the Suzuka 8 Hours
Bridgestone is aiming to extend its record-breaking run of success at the Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Road Race to ten consecutive victories as a tire supplier, with the world’s largest tire manufacturer supporting a roster of racing stars at Japan’s most prestigious motorcycle road race.
The 38th edition of the Suzuka 8 Hours takes place this weekend at the legendary Suzuka Circuit in Japan and will mark round two of the 2015 FIM Endurance World Championship; one of the few remaining international motorsport series where different tire manufacturers compete for supremacy.
At 5.8 kilometers in length the Suzuka Circuit features a fast average speed and a wide variety of corners such as the iconic 130R, Spoon and the ‘S’ curves. Over the eight hour race the bikes will complete over 200 laps during which time the tires can be subjected to a wide range of conditions from extreme heat – track temperatures can reach 60°C during the event – to heavy rain that can cover the tarmac in standing water. Bridgestone will bring approximately 1000 slick and wet tires in a variety of compounds and constructions, to ensure each team has a tire allocation that will provide maximum performance at this demanding event.
The current FIM regulations around tire usage specify that in an eight hour endurance race, each team can use a maximum of fifteen tires, although this restriction doesn’t apply to full wet tires. Generally, the top teams at the Suzuka 8 Hours use a seven stop strategy, meaning a total of eight stints and so in the case of a fully dry race, at least one tire out of a team’s slick tire allocation will need to be used in two separate stints. This means that one tire from a team’s allocation might have to endure a total of two hours of track time during which time it could complete over 300 kilometers. This not only demands tires with excellent durability, but requires teams to devise a strategy that makes best use of their tire allocation.
Since 2006, the winner of the Suzuka 8 Hours has been equipped with Bridgestone tires and once again the Japanese tire giant will provide its teams with tires that utilize MotoGP derived technology for unrivalled levels of performance, durability and control.
For the past two years, the Bridgestone-supported MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO Honda team of Takumi Takahashi, Leon Haslam and Michael van der Mark have won the Suzuka 8 Hours, however this year two-time MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner takes the place of Haslam in the team, who are aiming for a third consecutive victory.
Bridgestone is also supporting the Yamaha Factory Racing Team which features the MotoGP duo of Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith in their lineup, alongside reigning Japanese Superbike champion Katsuyuki Nakasuga. Last year’s second-placed team Yoshimura Suzuki SHELL ADVANCE will again be on Bridgestone tires with team stalwarts Takuya Tsuda and Josh Waters being joined this year by 8 Hours debutant Alex Lowes.
Other top teams that will race on Bridgestone tires include former winners F.C.C. TSR Honda with their new look line-up of Josh Hook, Dominique Aegerter and Kyle Ryde, while the experienced Team GREEN feature Japanese stars Akira Yanagawa and Kazuki Watanabe alongside Haji Ahmad Yudhistira on the resplendent Kawasaki ZX-10R.
Bridgestone’s quest for a tenth consecutive Suzuka 8 Hours victory commences at the Suzuka Circuit in Mie Prefecture Japan, from 1130 local time (GMT +9) on Sunday, July 26th.
Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“This year’s Suzuka 8 Hours will be particularly special as it features the strongest rider line-up in years and I am very pleased that MotoGP riders Bradley and Pol are participating, as well as Casey Stoner who is making a welcome return to motorcycle racing this weekend. With such stars joining the race it is no wonder that the anticipation ahead of this year’s ‘8Tai’ is so high and Bridgestone is extremely proud to be supporting such a number of high-profile teams at this amazing event. In MotoGP our tires have an excellent reputation for consistent performance and good durability and these characteristics will be of great importance this weekend as each team can only use a maximum of fifteen slick tires during the Suzuka 8 Hours. We hope to win a historic tenth consecutive victory as a tire supplier this year and I would like to wish all the riders taking part in the Suzuka 8 Hours a safe race.”
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tire Development Department
“Suzuka is a fast and technical circuit and in addition to the many different types of corners, the race can experience highly variable weather conditions so it is a big challenge for the bikes, riders and tires. In endurance racing, good tire durability and consistent tire performance are vitally important and in this regard, our MotoGP experience allows us to develop tires for the 8 Hours that provide optimum performance over a wide range of conditions and throughout a rider’s stint. Another important requirement in endurance racing is providing tires with good warm-up performance as a rider’s out-lap after each stint is a key factor in achieving a good race result and we feel our advanced MotoGP compound technology will allow our teams to achieve maximum performance as soon as the rider leaves pit lane. I am confident that our tire allocation at the ‘8Tai’ will give our teams the performance they need to challenge for victory.”