Valencia MotoGP debrief with Shinji Aoki
In the final MotoGP race of the 2014 season at Valencia, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez triumphed over Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa who finished in second and third place respectively, to claim a premier-class record of thirteen victories in one season.
The Valencia Grand Prix took place in cool and unsettled conditions, with a peak track temperature of just 21°C recorded and periods of light rain fall during the race. Marquez was able to set a new Valencia Circuit Record Lap (1'31.515) on the eighth lap of the race in the challenging conditions, as the 2014 World Champion ended the season with another dominant performance.
Q&A with Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle tire Development Department
Valencia was another race this year where temperatures on race day were significantly cooler than the previous two days of track action. How did Bridgestone manage this situation with the teams and riders?
“A key part of our strategy when deciding on our tire allocation for each race is to ensure our compound selection can deal with a wide range of operating temperatures. However, we also need to work with the teams and riders to ensure that as much as possible, they evaluate these different slick tire combinations so that they are prepared for any variation in weather conditions from day to day. In this regard, particularly for the front tire, last weekend in Valencia almost every rider tried all three of our front slick options which enabled them to make the best choice possible when presented with the cooler track temperatures on Sunday. In essence, there are two parts to effectively managing these situations. First, we need to provide an allocation of tires that will work over a wide range of temperatures at every circuit. The second part is having our engineers work with the teams so that they can find the options that will work best in a given set of conditions for each rider.”
The Valencia Grand Prix was the second time that Bridgestone offered an asymmetric front slick option to the riders. How did it work last weekend and will we see this type of tire at future races?
“The asymmetric soft compound front slick worked very well at Valencia and in the end it was the popular race choice, with fourteen riders selecting this option. This option was also widely used in the morning sessions when riders wanted good stability on the left shoulder, particularly through the fast, long-radius turn thirteen, while having good warm-up performance on the right corners, of which there are only five at Valencia. After having provided this asymmetric front option at two races this year, the riders have reported that it’s a very good option to have, so we will consider providing this kind of front slick at more circuits next year.”
At times during the race there was a fair amount of rain falling but only two riders, Iannone and Lorenzo, decided to make the change to their bikes fitted with wet tires. What is it about Bridgestone’s slick tires that allows the riders to lap relatively quickly in damp conditions?
“Our efforts to widen the operating temperature range and improve the warm-up performance of our slick tires not only provides a benefit in the dry, it also means that on a greasy track surface like we had yesterday at Valencia when it rained, the tires stay in their optimum temperature range. Many times in the past our slick tires have shown a good ability to manage damp track conditions by offering good grip, so this was a factor in why most of the riders remained on slicks. In what were highly variable weather conditions during the race, only one rider had a fall which shows that the riders were able to safely manage the conditions using slicks. This is a positive outcome for us and is the result of our ongoing efforts to improve the safety for the riders. ”