Catalan MotoGP debrief with Shinji Aoki
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo made it four wins in a row after a dominant victory at the Catalan Grand Prix ahead of teammate Valentino Rossi. Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa was third in a race that was run in scorching conditions at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
All sessions at the 2015 Catalan Grand Prix were run in dry conditions and Sunday was the hottest day of the race weekend, with a track temperature of 55°C recorded during the twenty-five lap race. During qualifying on Saturday, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR rider Aleix Espargaro set a new Circuit Best Lap record of 1'40.546 in a qualifying session where the existing lap record was beaten by four different riders.
Q&A with Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tire Development Department
Many riders were complaining about the state of the track last weekend, how did Bridgestone help the riders manage the difficult conditions at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya?
“We were well prepared for this weekend as for a while now, the condition of the track surface at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has been getting worse every year. As there was no resurfacing work taken since last year’s race, we knew we could expect even poorer conditions in 2015. The two biggest issues with the track is the low grip level of the tarmac and the large bumps, particularly in the braking zones. We took this into consideration when planning our tire allocation for this race and optimized the rear tire options for this race with softer compounds – two of three rear slick options at this year’s Catalan Grand Prix were softer than last year. These softer rear slick options helped compensate for the lack of grip provided by the track surface. One major point to consider is that the track temperature for the race this year was 55°C, which was 15 degrees more than last year’s race. Generally when track temperatures reach over 50 degrees, the grip level of the tarmac is reduced considerably, and this is especially the case at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. So the track condition for this year’s race was much worse than last year, but the total race time was 3.7 seconds faster than last year which is an excellent result for us!”
The hard compound front slick you brought to the Catalan Grand Prix was only used by four riders for the race. Were you expecting this option to be used by more riders for the race?
“The hard specification front slick we provided last weekend was the first time this option was available at the Catalan Grand Prix. In fact, this specification of front slick was first tested at the post-race test at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya last year and due to the positive reception it received then, we decided to include it in our allocation. This new hard front slick is an improvement over the previous hard front slick and we knew it would work better at the challenging Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. However, although the hard front slick performed better than its predecessor, the continual degradation of the track surface meant the medium compound front slick was the preferred option for the majority of the riders. This is mainly due to the better bump absorption it offered in the braking zones, and better edge grip which helped cornering performance. It seems the four factory Ducati riders preferred the greater stability and durability offered by the hard compound front slick.”
On the Monday following the Catalan Grand Prix Bridgestone supported riders at a MotoGP group test. For how long will Bridgestone continue to support teams during testing throughout the 2015 season?
“We will continue to support teams in private testing until August, but the group test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was the last group test Bridgestone will support this year. We now have enough data to ensure we can provide the best possible support to the teams at the remaining eleven rounds this year and still have some new developments that we will introduce later in the season. This is all part of our goal to ensure that our final year in MotoGP concludes in the best way possible.”