Bridgestone MotoGP Preview - Round 5: France, Le Mans
The fabled Le Mans circuit hosts round five of the 2015 MotoGP season, the venue now established as the regular venue of the French Grand Prix since the start of the millennium.
Measuring 4.2 kilometers in length, the Le Mans circuit features a ‘stop-and-go’ configuration with low-speed corners punctuated by a series of short straights. The layout places an emphasis on strong acceleration and braking performance, rather than outright corner speed. With cool temperatures likely and the tarmac being relatively low in grip, the circuit demands a good bike setup to ensure the tires stay in their optimum operating range. The low temperatures and forces imposed on tires means that the slick tire allocation for this round uses Bridgestone’s softest rubber compounds to ensure quick warm-up, high grip and excellent temperature retention.
For Le Mans, Bridgestone’s rear slick tire allocation for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders will be the soft and medium asymmetric options, while the rest of the field will have access to the extra-soft and soft rear slicks. The front slick allocation for Le Mans will be the extra-soft, soft & medium compound options.
To ensure optimal performance in wet conditions, the main wet tire for French Grand Prix is the soft compound although limited numbers of the alternative, hard compound wet tire will also be available.
Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“It is always a pleasure coming to Le Mans as Bridgestone has shared in many memorable victories here, both in the competition and sole tire supply eras, including some challenging races caused by unstable weather. The layout of this circuit features many acceleration and braking zones and overall is not so severe on tires, so this is the first round when we are able to offer our extra-soft compound front and rear slicks. In recent years this circuit hasn’t favored any particular manufacturer, so I hope to see many riders challenging for the podium this weekend. Although it is often cool and wet at Le Mans, our tire allocation is designed to work over a wide range of temperatures and conditions, but of course I hope we can see another exciting race take place in dry conditions! This year we have two French riders in Mike and Loris participating in the MotoGP class so there is even more incentive for the local fans to come to Le Mans this weekend to enjoy the action.”
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tire Development Department
Le Mans has a stop-and-go layout and overall, the lateral loads placed on the tires at Le Mans are low compared to other circuits. Additionally, the tarmac is smooth and low in grip; therefore the French Grand Prix is the first occasion this year where we will offer the extra-soft front and rear slick options. The layout of the circuit means riders want tires with good rear grip for acceleration out of the corners, and optimal stability from the front tire for the many braking zones. Although the circuit is generally quite easy on tires, the right shoulders of the rear tire are placed under more stress than the left, particularly on the exit of turn nine. As a result, all of our asymmetric rear slicks for Le Mans feature harder rubber on the right shoulder.”