Portuguese Grand Prix, Estoril: Bridgestone Debrief with Shinji Aoki

 In MotoGP, News

Portugal’s Circuito do Estoril hosted round three of the 2012 MotoGP™ championship with Sunday’s race seeing defending champion Casey Stoner steer his Repsol Honda RC213V to a first ever victory at the circuit.

Second place went to Jorge Lorenzo on the Yamaha Factory Racing M1 while Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa kept his perfect podium record for 2012 intact by placing third.

Weather conditions at Estoril were variable but improved over the course of the weekend with wet periods on Friday replaced by mainly sunny skies and track temperatures in the mid to high 30°C range for Saturday’s qualifying session and the race on Sunday.

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear: Medium, Hard (Asymmetric).
Bridgestone wet compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative).

Q&A with Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department

At Estoril every rider selected the medium compound for both the front and rear slick tyres for the race. How did the weather conditions this weekend affect tyre choice?

“All the slick tyre options we brought to Estoril were used at some point in the weekend as conditions from Friday to Sunday changed substantially. Grip levels for Friday practice were poor due to rain earlier that morning with some riders trying out wet tyres to start but as the track started to dry, the softer option front and rear slicks were chosen due to their better warm-up performance and initial grip in the variable conditions. For FP3 and qualifying the weather improved and so did grip levels, at which point riders switched to the medium compound front slick tyre for its greater stability and durability, in combination with the medium compound rear slick tyre.

“The harder rear slick tyre that we made available was used during the weekend during practice and qualifying but as track temperatures before the race were not as high they could’ve been due to some cloud over the circuit, all racers selected the medium rear compound. If track temperatures for the race were toward the mid 40°C range than I believe we would have seen some riders select the harder rear slick tyre.”

Estoril was the second competitive outing for the new specification front slick tyre. How did it perform at a track that is vastly different from Jerez?

“At Jerez we offered the new specification front slick tyre in the hard compound while at Estoril it was offered in the medium compound and once again the appraisal from riders this weekend was very encouraging. Apart from the improved warm-up performance it offers, the feedback from riders was that the new specification front slick was particularly good through the bumpier sections of the Estoril circuit as its less rigid structure is better at absorbing irregularities in the track surface. This was a contributing factor to why two-thirds of the riders selected the new specification front slick tyre for the race.”

Source: Bridgestone Motorsport

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