Bridgestone MotoGP Preview: Le Mans
The fourth round of the 2013 MotoGP season takes place at the iconic Le Mans circuit after an exciting start to the championship that has yielded three different winners from the first three races.
At 4.185 kilometers in length, the Le Mans circuit places more emphasis on acceleration and braking rather than outright corner speed due to its many slow corners that are connected by a series of short straight sections. The relatively slow corner speeds means that Le Mans is the least severe circuit on the calendar for tyres, and this combined with the generally cool temperatures means the front and rear slick compounds offered here are at the softest end of the spectrum. The soft rubber compounds ensure quick warm-up, high grip and excellent temperature retention.
At Le Mans, Bridgestone’s rear slick tyres will be available in the extra-soft and soft compounds for CRT riders, and soft and medium compound for the riders on works bikes. The soft and medium rear slicks will be asymmetric in construction with harder rubber on the right shoulder, while the extra-soft rear slick will be symmetric. The front slicks for Le Mans will be the extra-soft and soft compound options. To ensure adequate tyre warm-up in wet conditions, the main wet tyre for Le Mans will be the soft compound.
Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“Le Mans is susceptible to unsettled weather which can throw up some interesting race results and the weather forecast indicates we may once again have cool and wet conditions over the race weekend. If conditions are changeable, this could make evaluating tyres and finding a race setup a challenge for the riders so I expect it will be an especially busy weekend for all the teams. We’ve had such an exciting start to the season and with Le Mans having a history of delivering dramatic races, I hope the excitement continues at what is one of the most famous motorsport venues in the world. I am glad to see that Karel Abraham will make a return to racing after his absence through injury and I extend my best wishes to Ben Spies and hope him a swift and full recovery from his shoulder injury.”
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“Le Mans is a slippery and smooth circuit and often for this race the track temperature can be quite low, so we bring slicks with softer compounds to ensure adequate warm-up performance and grip. The circuit has a stop-and-go nature and overall, the lateral loads placed on the tyres at Le Mans are low, which is another reason we provide softer compounds here. Another performance requirement here is to provide tyres that provide maximum stability under braking. The circuit has an unbalanced layout that uses the right shoulders more than the left, especially on the exit of turn nine, so the soft and medium rear slicks are asymmetric with harder rubber on the right shoulder, while the CRT-specific extra-soft slick is symmetric in construction.
“The unstable weather at Le Mans can have a significant impact upon bike settings and tyre choice and in previous years we have seen vastly different conditions from one session to the other. The propensity for cool weather at Le Mans means the soft compound wet tyre is main specification for this weekend.”