Bridgestone MotoGP Preview: Sepang
Round seventeen of the 2014 MotoGP season takes place at Sepang International Circuit, a circuit defined by its high ambient temperatures and humidity, and a fast, technical layout.
Measuring approximately 5.5 kilometers in length, Sepang is characterized by two long straights that end in extreme braking zones which demand high levels of stability from the front tire. The rest of the circuit is a mix of high and low speed corners that combine to generate significant stress on tires, with this circuit being one of the more demanding in terms of tire development.
With the severe braking zones being such an integral part of the Sepang Circuit, Bridgestone has developed a new hard compound front slick tire that riders will get to use in a race setting for the first time this weekend. This new development offers the same excellent braking stability and durability of the previous hard compound front slick, but with better cornering and warm-up performance.
Although Sepang is tough on tires and asymmetric rear slicks are supplied at this circuit, the stresses placed on the left and right shoulders of the tire are not as marked as at other circuits, so the right shoulder features rubber only one step harder than the left. The rear tire options for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders are the medium and hard compounds, while the Ducati and Open-class riders have the soft and medium compound rear slicks available to them. Owing to its severe braking zones and high ambient temperatures, the front tire allocation for Sepang comprises rubber compounds that are towards the harder end of Bridgestone’s range with the medium compound front being available alongside the new hard compound front slick that makes its competitive debut this weekend.
Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“The final leg of the triple-header takes place this weekend at Malaysia’s Sepang Circuit, and this event is growing in popularity each year as South-east Asia’s love affair with MotoGP continues to grow. There is still a lot to play for in this championship, with two rounds left to decide who will finish second in the championship. Valentino and Jorge are in great form for Yamaha, but Dani has a tremendous record at Sepang having won there the past two years, so it seems we may have an exciting battle on our hands. This weekend also marks the final round of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup which Bridgestone has been proud to support in its inaugural year. This series has helped unearth some great young riding talent in Asia, and I hope to see a successful conclusion to this year’s championship in front of a big crowd at Sepang.”
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle tire Development Department
“The Sepang circuit have a varied layout that is characterized by its two long straights, the long lap length and the high track temperature which is often above 50 degrees Celsius. It is one of the fastest circuits of the season and features a mix of high speed corners and tight hairpins with heavy braking. Front tire stability is crucial under braking, especially at the end of the two fast straights, and the high speed corners demand good shoulder grip and durability. This weekend marks the debut of our new hard compound front slick and given how important good front-end feel and stability is at this circuit, this new development should be a boost to riders this weekend.
“tire durability and a good bike setup are crucial here as the high ambient and track temperatures mean that there is little cooling effect on the tires. The track surface at Sepang has degraded significantly over the years, so it’s important that the teams find a setup that makes best use of the tires and in this regard, having the winter tests here is important.”