Bridgestone MotoGP Race Preview - Round 3: Estoril, Portugal
Following an exciting second race of the season at Jerez, MotoGP stays put on the Iberian Peninsula for this weekend as Portugal’s Circuito do Estoril hosts round three of the 2012 MotoGP World Championship.
With two of the eighteen rounds completed, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo leads the championship after victory at Qatar and a second place at Jerez, while Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner, fresh from a fantastic win at Jerez and teammate Dani Pedrosa are hot on his heels in the standings.
Estoril’s layout features a wide array of corners with both fast and slow sections that generate dissimilar loads on the left and right-hand shoulders of the tyres meaning asymmetric rear slicks are essential to ensure riders have consistent levels of grip and the necessary durability over race distance. The left shoulder of the rear tyre is subject to much lower loads and so needs to be softer to offer good warm-up performance and initial grip, whereas the higher temperatures generated in the right shoulder, particularly as riders open the throttle out of Parabólica and onto the main straight, require a harder compound rubber.
Traditionally, grip levels at Estoril are variable due to its proximity to the sea and susceptibility to unsettled weather and current long-term forecasts indicate that rain is a strong possibility over the race weekend.
Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“So far this season we’ve had two very good races and with Estoril giving us many memorable races in previous years, I believe this trend will continue this weekend. Jorge’s record at Estoril is very good but with so many riders in form I expect it to be another closely-fought contest. I also look forward to seeing how the battle between the CRT riders develops as the performance of the CRT machines at the last race was impressive.
“Having had its competitive debut at Jerez, our new specification front slick tyre will be available at Estoril in the harder compound and following the positive feedback it received from riders at Jerez, I anticipate that it will be widely utilised this weekend. The change in wet tyre allocation regulation that was introduced at Jerez also worked well, with riders taking advantage of the extra flexibility in tyre choice it offers. Rain is always a possibility at Estoril and though the main wet tyre we are offering is the softer compound, the hard compound wet tyre will be available to riders if required. On Monday there will be a post-race test and our engineers will be on-hand to assist teams with tyre choice and data analysis, so it will be a busy weekend for Bridgestone.”
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Division
“Estoril has quite a distinctive layout with an imbalance between right and left-hand corners and a combination of fast corners, such as the long, final corner that leads onto the main straight and very slow sections such as the chicane that makes up turns nine and ten.
“The track layout, combined with the generally low track temperatures encountered at Estoril requires softer tyre compounds – particularly at the front - to generate the necessary grip and warm-up performance, but for the rear tyre, the right shoulder of the rear tyre needs to be harder to cope with the high temperatures generated in the last corner. To address this performance requirement, Bridgestone will provide an asymmetric rear tyre at Estoril that features rubber on its right shoulder that is considerably harder than the rubber on the left shoulder for the optimum combination of grip and durability.”