Bridgestone MotoGP Race Preview - Laguna Seca, USA
The second half of the 2012 MotoGP season gets underway with this weekend’s U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, home to one of the most challenging and exciting sections of tarmac on the calendar; the Corkscrew.
Laguna Seca features rapid changes in both elevation and direction so the tyres supplied must provide excellent front-end stability. With this in mind, the front tyres developed for the U.S. Grand Prix deliver high levels of edge grip for the more demanding sections, while also granting excellent warm-up performance at a circuit that has one of the lowest average speeds in MotoGP. There are seven left-hand turns compared to just four right-hand turns, so the asymmetric rear slicks feature slightly harder rubber on the left shoulder for greater durability though overall, the rubber compounds used in the rear tyres at Laguna Seca are towards the soft end of the spectrum.
The wider operating temperature range of the 2012 specification MotoGP tyres will ensure riders have consistent grip levels and exemplary warm-up performance at a circuit which can experience large daily variations in ambient temperatures due to its proximity to the ocean and its location in a natural amphitheatre in the hills east of Monterey. Generally, track temperatures in the afternoon at Laguna Seca tend to reach approximately 45°C as the sun shines overhead but in the morning, the lower ambient temperatures keep the track somewhat cooler at around 25°C.
Laguna Seca has the shortest main straight on the calendar at just 453 metres in length meaning that the bikes and therefore the tyres spend more time at high lean-angles and have less time to cool down, resulting in greater levels of heat retention in the tyres than the ambient and track temperatures would suggest.
Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“Laguna Seca is the perfect venue to commence the second half of what has been an entertaining season as the U.S. Grand Prix is a race which historically has played a pivotal part in the championship. The previous few years has seen many exciting battles at this circuit and last year’s contest between the three riders currently leading the championship in Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Stoner was particularly memorable among these.
“The established American MotoGP stars Nicky Hayden, Ben Spies and Colin Edwards are always competitive at Laguna Seca, but the local fans will have another rider to cheer on this weekend as wildcard rider Steve Rapp makes his debut in the class aboard the Attack Performance-Kawasaki CRT machine. Finally, I would like to wish Hector Barbera all the best in his recovery from his unfortunate injury and I’d also like to welcome his replacement for this weekend, Toni Elias, back to MotoGP.”
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“Laguna Seca is the shortest circuit on the calendar yet still presents a significant challenge for MotoGP tyres. The Corkscrew is a really demanding section with the fast change of direction and elevation requiring superior front-end feel and stability, but the tyres also need to provide good levels of grip through the right-handed turns three and four and as these ninety-degree corners do not place as much cumulative load on the tyres as long corners, the compounds on the right shoulder of the tyres need to be softer to retain sufficient temperature.
“Most of the corners at Laguna Seca are left-handers so the left shoulders of the asymmetric rear tyres feature relatively harder rubber to cope with the greater stresses endured, but overall Laguna Seca isn’t that demanding on rear tyres. The front tyres choices for this Grand Prix are the soft, medium and hard compounds to ensure excellent warm-up performance and edge grip at a circuit where track temperatures can vary significantly between the morning and afternoon sessions.”