Bridgestone has announced that they are to bring forward the introduction of a new 2012-spec front tire, and start allowing riders to use it from the Jerez round of MotoGP. The new tire was tested extensively during the preseason, with versions tried at both Sepang tests and at the IRTA test at Jerez. The tire features a modified construction which allows it to heat up more quickly as well as provide more feedback to the riders.
The selected construction was one of two types tested during the preseason. The two types - designated as "21" and "24" - differed only slightly, the central section being slightly less rigid in construction on the 21 compared to the 24. The riders were positive about both types, but were split on which tire was best. The majority of the riders preferred the 21, praising it has having better stability and feedback. Surprisingly, the Honda riders took the opposite view, saying that it was the 24 which was the more stable tire, the 21 providing less stability under braking. The difference appears to be in the way that the Honda reacts under braking, when compared to the Yamaha and the Ducati, but Casey Stoner felt that riders preferring the 21 were making a mistake, suggesting that once they found themselves in the pressure of a race situation, they would also start running into the stability issues that he and Pedrosa were encountering with the 21.
After consultation with all of the riders, as well as Dorna and Loris Capirossi, who is acting as liaison between the tire company and Dorna, Bridgestone eventually elected to go with the wishes of the majority. The new tire will be introduced gradually, starting from Jerez, where the riders will be given two new spec tires to go along with the nine original spec tires they are currently using. From Silverstone, all of the front tires will be of the new spec.
Below is the official press release from Bridgestone, announcing and explaining the changes:
Bridgestone proposes introduction of new specification MotoGP front tyre
9 April 2012
Bridgestone will introduce a new specification front tyre for the FIM MotoGP World Championship, giving the twenty-one riders taking part in this year’s competition access to the very latest in tyre technology.
This new front tyre is the latest evolution of the 2012 specification MotoGP front tyre. This latest specification front tyre features a revised construction that further enhances rider feel and warm-up performance and was developed following analysis of performance data and rider feedback acquired in pre-season testing.
Due to the overwhelmingly positive appraisal this new front tyre received when tested by riders, Bridgestone, after consultation with Dorna, the FIM and IRTA, has agreed to replace the current front tyre with the new 2012 specification front tyre from the Silverstone round while also making a limited number of the new front tyre available for the Jerez, Estoril, Le Mans and Catalunya rounds.
Starting from Jerez, riders will be allocated two of the new specification front tyres to increase their total allocation for the race weekend to eleven front tyres. The new specification tyre will only be made available in the harder compound option, as the greater durability this option provides makes it better suited for race use. At Silverstone, when the new specification front tyre becomes the standard, the front tyre allocation will return to nine tyres.
The tables below illustrate how the front tyre allocation will change with the introduction of the new specification front tyre at Jerez, and then revert back to nine tyres once the new specification front tyre becomes the standard from the Silverstone round.
Front tyre allocation for Jerez & Catalunya (11 tyres)
|Harder (new spec)||Δ||Δ|
Front tyre allocation for Estoril & Le Mans (11 tyres)
|Harder (new spec)||Δ||Δ|
Front tyre allocation from Silverstone and remaining Special Case races in 2012* (9 tyres)
* Due to the particular track and weather conditions at Sepang, the two front options available for this race are hard & extra-hard.
Front tyre allocation for races after Silverstone where a third front option is available (9 tyres)
〇 = Original 2012 specification front tyre Δ = New 2012 specification front tyre
〇 = Original 2012 specification front tyre
Δ = New 2012 specification front tyre
Certain circuits may be designated as Special Case by agreement between Bridgestone, the Safety Commission and organisers where, due to weather or track conditions, the availability of a third specification of front tyre is not necessary (i.e. only two front options will be made available) as the soft front compound is part of the standard allocation. For 2012, circuits designated as Special Case are Estoril, Le Mans, Silverstone, Assen, Phillip Island, Sepang and Valencia.
The highlighted boxes in the tables above mark the initial allocation of front tyres distributed equally to every rider on the day before FP1. The remaining boxes indicate the remaining front tyre compound choices available to each rider after the completion of FP2, at which point the rider can select an additional four tyres to complete their total allocation of front tyres. At rounds where three front tyre options are available, riders can only choose a maximum of three of the softer option front tyre, and five front tyres each of the medium and harder compound.
Bridgestone proposes change to Wet Tyre Allocation
Following a request from the Safety Commission, Bridgestone has proposed a revision to the wet tyre allocation for each race. Riders are currently allocated four rear and four front wet tyres in a single compound option, or in the case of all practice sessions being wet, five front and rear wet tyres.
Currently, riders have access to only one compound option of wet tyre per race. Under the new proposal, after the first wet practice session, Bridgestone, in consultation with the Safety Commission and organisers may agree to provide wet tyres with an alternative compound option to ensure rider safety in wet conditions. In this case, each rider may choose to replace a maximum of two of their front and/or rear wet tyres with the alternative compound.
To expedite the revisions to the front tyre and wet tyre allocation, the FIM will propose changes to the tyre allocation regulations to members of the Grand Prix Commission. Should the proposals presented be accepted by the commission members, they will be implemented with immediate effect.
The introduction of a new specification front tyre, and the revision to the wet tyre allocation are the latest in a series of initiatives implemented by Bridgestone to improve rider safety. At Mugello last year, Bridgestone proposed bringing softer rear slick tyre options to six of the remaining races in the 2011 season and a revision to the rear tyre allocation to provide riders with greater flexibility in choosing their final rear tyre allocation. Additionally, Bridgestone increased the number of front tyre compounds available to three from the Brno round, ensuring the availability of a softer front compound at each race.
Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“Last year we set out with a clear set of technical objectives for our 2012 specification tyres and since they were first tested, we received very good feedback on our path of development. Though rider comments on our original 2012 specification front tyre were positive, we haven’t rested on our laurels and brought new specification front tyres to the pre-season tests as part of our ongoing tyre development programme. One of these new front tyres was met with such an encouraging appraisal from the riders that we proposed to make it available as soon as possible. Due to logistical constraints, we are unable to supply a full allocation of this new specification front tyre until Silverstone, but we have changed our production schedule and made every effort to provide a limited allocation of the new front tyre to riders from the next race.
“I would like to thank all the riders and teams for their commitment to evaluating during pre-season testing and also Safety Advisor to Dorna Loris Capirossi for his ongoing efforts in collating feedback from the riders. I look forward to Jerez with great interest as not only will riders be using our latest specification front tyre in a race setting for the first time, they will also be showcasing the very latest in Bridgestone tyre technology to the world.”
Carmelo Ezpeleta - CEO, Dorna Sports
“Dorna is pleased that Bridgestone will make their new specification front tyre available to riders from the second round of the season at Jerez. During the regular meetings during pre-season testing between Bridgestone and Safety Advisor to Dorna Loris Capirossi, it became apparent that this new specification tyre provided even greater levels of front-end feel to the riders and so we welcome the decision to make the tyre available as soon as possible.
“I would like to thank Bridgestone for continuing to equip MotoGP riders with their latest tyre technology and sharing in Dorna’s commitment to continually improve rider safety.”