Aragon MotoGP debrief with Shinji Aoki
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo secured his first win of the 2014 MotoGP season in a chaotic Aragon Grand Prix which started dry, yet finished in soaking wet conditions after a heavy downpour late in the race.
Lorenzo won ahead of NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro, who took second place for his first ever MotoGP rostrum, and Ducati Team’s Cal Crutchlow, who took third place for his first podium with the Italian team.
The Aragon race weekend started with cool, yet sunny conditions, before rainy periods occurred on Sunday. After a dry start to the twenty-three lap race, heavy rain fell in the latter stages of the contest and the peak track temperature of 23°C was 11°C cooler than the peak figure recorded in last year’s Aragon Grand Prix.
Q&A with Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle tire Development Department
The Aragon Grand Prix race weekend experienced the coldest track temperatures seen so far this year. How did Bridgestone prepare for this, given that in the past much warmer track temperatures have occurred?
“The Aragon circuit can experience large variations in ambient and track temperatures, so we have to ensure our tire allocation for this circuit can deal with this possibility. When developing tires for Aragon, getting the right balance between warm-up performance, durability, and cornering and braking stability is crucial. Our expanded front tire allocation at Aragon this year proved to be well suited to the track conditions last weekend, and although just the soft and medium compound front slicks were used, if we had warmer temperatures then the hard compound front slick was also available to riders.
“For the rear tires, Aragon is a circuit where the very wide operating temperature range of our current generation of MotoGP slicks is of real benefit to the riders. All three rear slick compound options were utilized throughout the weekend, including the race and not only did we have a new Circuit Best Lap record during qualifying, the general comments from the riders is that our tires gave good feedback and consistent performance at Aragon.”
Temperatures were quite cool for Sunday’s race, yet three riders still selected the hard compound rear slick. We’ve seen all three rear slick options being used in a race before, but were you surprised that this occurred last Sunday with such low track temperatures?
“It’s not a surprise that some riders opted to use the hard compound rear slick in the race, as Marc Marquez was very quick on this option during FP3 when the track temp was around 20°C. His back-to-back comparison with the medium compound rear slick on Saturday morning showed that Honda were able to extract good performance out of the hard rear slick when track temperatures were cool, so this option was open to them on Sunday when the track temperatures for the race were lower than expected. Some Yamaha riders also evaluated the hard compound rear slick on Saturday, but for them, the medium compound rear slick seemed to work best.”
The main wet tire at Aragon was the soft compound, but most riders had the alternative, hard compound wet tire fitted to their spare bikes during the race, and used this after they changed bikes halfway through the race. Why did so many riders prefer the hard wet tire over the soft compound?
“The warm up session on Sunday morning was important as it was the first fully-wet session at Aragon for a couple of years, and it enabled the riders to understand how our wet tires were performing on this circuit. In the warm up session, all the riders except Dani Pedrosa used the soft compound wet tire as this option offers the best warm-up performance and overall grip. However, Dani did a very good run on the hard compound wet tires and ultimately finished the session quickest, so I think his performance was the main factor in the other riders having this option fitted to their spare bikes for the race. The balance between outright performance and durability of the hard compound wet tire at Aragon made it the popular choice for the riders on Sunday.”