Bridgestone previews the MotoGP opener at Losail
All eyes will be on Qatar this weekend as the Losail International Circuit gets set to host the opening round of the 2012 FIM MotoGP Championship season.
The Qatar race marks the beginning of Bridgestone’s fourth season as Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP in what promises to be an exciting year of competition. This season sees the return of 1000cc machinery to the grid and the introduction of several new teams has boosted the number of full-time entrants in the world’s premier road-racing championship to twenty-one riders.
The unique environment of the Losail circuit, with its cool night temperatures and susceptibility to being coated with abrasive desert sand, presents an exceptional technical challenge for Bridgestone. To help riders deal with the variable conditions, Bridgestone is for the first time bringing three front tyre compounds to Qatar while an asymmetric rear tyre will also be made available to provide the durability needed to cope with the succession of high-speed right hand corners.
Reigning champion Casey Stoner has won four of the five previous editions of the Qatar MotoGP including last year’s race and the Repsol Honda rider will have to continue his sparkling pre-season form in order to fend off the challenges of teammate Dani Pedrosa, Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies, and the Ducati duo of Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden.
Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“I am excited to get the 2012 season underway at Losail as not only do we commence our fourth year as Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP, it also marks the beginning of our renewed contract with Dorna that will see us continue as sole tyre supplier to the series until the end of the 2014 season. Qatar always produces a thrilling race and with many new riders and teams in the MotoGP championship for 2012, I expect we will have many thrilling battles throughout the year. In keeping with the revision to the front tyre allocation we made at Brno last year, we will make three front tyre options available to riders to help them cope with the variable conditions that can occur in Qatar.
“The pre-season tests gave Bridgestone the opportunity to establish working relationships with all the new teams and riders so I am confident that we will commence the season in a strong position to support everyone taking part in this year’s championship equally and fairly.”
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Division
“The first race of the season at Qatar presents a unique technical challenge for Bridgestone. Apart from being the only race on the calendar to be run at night-time which brings with it low track temperatures, the fine desert sand can coat the track surface in a highly abrasive coating. To enable riders to adapt to these variable track conditions, for the first time we are bringing three front tyre compounds options to Qatar; soft, medium and extra-hard. The softer compounds are available to ensure rider safety if particularly cool track temperatures occur, while the harder option gives greater durability when track conditions improve while also providing greater stability under hard braking.
“With the Losail circuit featuring a number of high-speed right hand turns, we have also made available an asymmetric rear tyre. This development sees harder, more durable rubber on the right shoulder of the tyre and softer rubber on the left shoulder to keep the tyre in its optimal operating temperature range to provide riders with the best combination of grip and durability.”