Bridgestone Preview: Catalunya Grand Prix
The Catalan Grand Prix, held on 5 June, is run at the Circuit de Catalunya which is located 25km north of the Spanish city of Barcelona. Hugely popular with Spanish fans, and with a proliferation of Spanish riders on the grid, the atmosphere is always charged.
It is one of the toughest races of the year for Bridgestone’s rear tyres because of the very high tyre temperature generated by the predominantly right-handed layout of the circuit. With eight right-handers, most of which are fast and flowing, Catalunya is very demanding for the right side of the rear tyres. It is specifically turn three and the last three corners that generate the high rear tyre temperature as they are fast and long and the tyres spend a lot of time leant over on their right side. Turn three is also uphill so riders open the throttle earlier to maximise drive on the incline.
A good exit to the final corner is crucial as it leads onto the kilometre-long main straight, and this also generates high temperature in the right shoulder of the rear tyres as riders accelerate hard from mid-corner to maximise their speed. By contrast, the five left corners are generally slower and so much less severe for the left side of the tyres.
Bridgestone’s asymmetric rear slicks will be used at Catalunya to cope with the high temperature in the right shoulders. The rear slicks are available in either Medium or Hard compound rubber, both of which feature Bridgestone’s soft compound in the left shoulders to balance the demands of the Catalunya circuit. Having listened to riders after last year’s race, the rear compounds are one step softer this season.
The circuit is mildly severe for the front tyre, again more so on the right side because of the circuit’s layout, but the load on the centre of the tyre under braking is lower because of Catalunya’s fast and flowing nature. Bridgestone have selected the same Medium and Hard compound front slicks as were last used at Jerez. In case of rain, for the first time this season Bridgestone have selected the hard compound wets.
Jorge Lorenzo, last year’s winner in Catalunya, arrives at his home race at the head of the championship standings, 12 points ahead of Casey Stoner whose win in France jumped him to second overall, five points ahead of the injured Dani Pedrosa who is in a race to regain fitness for what is also his home GP after breaking his collarbone in France.
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium, Hard. Rear (asymmetric): Medium, Hard
Hiroshi Yamada – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“Catalunya has been the venue of some fantastic battles in recent years, most memorably the 2009 battle between Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo that wasn’t decided until the final corner of the race. This year the date of the race has been changed, one month earlier than last year, as part of the calendar reshuffle in 2011 but with the strength of the field this year the many fans are sure to have a lot to cheer about. In his race back to fitness I wish Dani Pedrosa all the very best and we hope to see him on the grid for his home race.”
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division
“Catalunya is a smooth but high speed circuit that generates higher temperature in the right shoulder of the tyres than the left because of its mostly right-handed nature. Turn three and the last section of the lap generates very high rear tyre temperature and makes Catalunya one of the toughest circuits of the year for our rear tyres.
“There are eight right-hand corners, most of which are long and fast, and only five left-handers, most of which are much slower so there is a significant imbalance between rear tyre temperatures in the right and left shoulders, so for this reason we have selected asymmetric rear slicks to balance these demands. This is one of the key roles of our tyres – we must carefully choose the compound combinations in our asymmetric tyres to equalize imbalances posed by each circuit to provide consistent rider feeling throughout a lap. We listened to rider calls from last year’s race here that the extra hard rear was not necessary from the point of view of grip and consistency. We carefully analysed last year’s race data and tyre choices and as a result we have chosen rear options one step softer this year.”
Source: Bridgestone Motorsport