Bridgestone MotoGP Race Preview - Round 4: Le Mans, France
MotoGP heads to the sacred motorsport arena of Le Mans this weekend with the 4.185 kilometre Bugatti circuit playing host to the fourth round of the 2012 season.
The layout of the Le Mans Bugatti circuit features many slow corners connected by a series of straight sections and the second half of the circuit comprises mainly right-hand turns that require the provision of asymmetric rear slicks. The dynamic forces placed on tires at Le Mans are the least severe of any circuit on the calendar and as cool conditions are often encountered, Bridgestone will bring its soft and medium compound front slicks. At the rear, the soft asymmetric rear slick - featuring Bridgestone’s extra-soft rubber on the left shoulder and soft compound rubber on the right - makes its first appearance in 2012 and will be offered alongside the medium compound rear slick. To ensure adequate tyre warm-up in wet conditions, the main wet tire for Le Mans will be the soft compound option.
Perhaps owing to its stop-and-go layout and susceptibility to unsettled weather, Le Mans has a reputation of delivering exciting racing and for the previous six years only one rider starting on pole position for the French GP has gone on to win the race; Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner in 2011.
Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“Le Mans is a special place to visit with the large crowds and history of the venue combining to create a unique atmosphere and over the years the French GP has provided some very challenging races due to the poor weather conditions encountered at this time of year. Once again this weekend we will provide two of the new specification front slick tire to each rider which at Le Mans will be available in the medium compound.
“I am happy to hear that the surgery on Colin Edwards’ collarbone was a success and I hope to see him back in action soon. I would also like to welcome back Chris Vermeulen to the paddock as Bridgestone and Chris share some great memories together in MotoGP, particularly his victory at this circuit in 2007.”
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“Due to its layout and usually low track temperatures, Le Mans is a race where softer compound tires are required to generate the necessary levels of grip. The circuit has quite a stop-and-go nature with a series of slow corners punctuated with two straights and though lateral loads placed on the tires are relatively low compared to other circuits, the tires provided need to offer good stability under braking, particularly at the end of the straight sections.
“The second half of the lap is mainly right-hand turns, causing an imbalance in the temperatures generated across the tire and so asymmetric rear tires with comparatively harder rubber on the right shoulder are provided at Le Mans. The weather at this circuit is also very unstable and can have a significant impact upon bike settings and tire choice.”