Suzuki / Bridgestone Press Release: Tire Development With Rizla Suzuki

Prior to last weekend's MotoGP round, Suzuki team issued an interesting press release detailing the tire development work going on between Suzuki and Bridgestone. The press release appears below:


TYRE DEVELOPMENT WITH BRIDGESTONE

Team Suzuki Press Office - June 9.

Behind the scenes at a race weekend with Rizla Suzuki MotoGP and its long-standing partner Bridgestone Tyres.

It all comes down to race-day. All the preparation, the effort, the blood sweat and tears are summarised each Grand Prix weekend in 45 minutes or 120 kilometres on Sunday afternoon. At least in the eyes of the outside world it is...

The reality, however, is that Sunday is just the culmination of all the hard work put in during the days and weeks before each race by the Rizla Suzuki Team and its partners, give or take a bit of luck or lack thereof.

An integral part of this preparation, and playing a crucial role in performance and ultimately results, are the Bridgestone tyres that Alvaro Bautista uses. The Suzuki/ Bridgestone relationship is the longest in the paddock, having started back in 2004 in only Bridgestone's third season in MotoGP; and existed ever since, yielding multiple podiums and a win for Chris Vermeulen in 2007.

But how much can there be to the black hoops at each end of the GSV-R? Well, Bridgestone's work with the team starts in earnest on the Thursday before each race. Yukihiko Kubo is the Bridgestone tyre engineer responsible for Alvaro and the Suzuki squad, and here he explains his task.

"I start working closely with Suzuki and Alvaro's engineers on the Thursday at each Grand Prix" says Kubo. "It's important that before Alvaro takes to the track everyone in the team knows and understands the tyre compounds we have at each race so this is where we start. I've been working with Alvaro since just last year but we work well together and have a good relationship, which is very important in establishing trust.

"I sit in meetings with the team engineers on Thursday to agree upon the plan for the weekend. I carefully explain the tyre compound choices we have, how they are different from the previous year and why we have made that choice. I then outline which front and rear tyre compounds we recommend for the race, and from that point we agree upon a plan of tyre usage and setup direction and the goal for the race."

Bridgestone has been the Official Tyre Supplier to the MotoGP class since 2009 and under regulations imposed from that year; each rider is allocated 18 slicks (eight fronts and ten rears) and eight wet tyres per weekend. The FIM randomly allocate tyres to every rider on Thursday, at which point they are registered to each rider using each tyre's unique barcode, recorded by both Bridgestone and the FIM.

"So once we have decided upon the weekend plan, we have a clear idea of when Alvaro will use each tyre compound option" continues Kubo. "With a restricted number of new tyres it is very important to ensure that tyre usage is managed carefully to make sure Alvaro has at least one new set for qualifying on Saturday afternoon and for the race. New tyres have a distinct performance advantage, so this is critical in helping the team achieve the best possible grid position and then race result.

"At the end of each day I join the de-brief with Alvaro and the team engineers to discuss where we are in relation to the plan and what steps we take next. Throughout each day though we are constantly collecting tyre data in the form of temperatures and pressures as both of these are key indicators of setup - for example the rear slicks should be operating at above 100 degrees Celsius to provide maximum grip, and if the actual tyre temperature is lower, we know peak grip is not being reached and that therefore the bike, rider and tyre package is not working as well as it could. I am then involved with the engineers making setup changes to try and achieve this optimum. In the years of tyre competition, tyre manufacturers would produce specific tyre compounds for each rider and bike, but now in single supply, Bridgestone must work closely with the teams to help them get the bikes working best on our tyres."

After all, two Bridgestone tyres are all that connect the Suzuki GSV-R to the tarmac and they play a key role in translating the efforts of the Rizla Suzuki MotoGP Team to race results. Even though tyre choices are now fewer in the era of single supply, Bridgestone's role remains just as important and the relationship with Suzuki continues as strongly as ever.

2011

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Comments

Given there are only two compounds available and as Mr Kubo states (given all other things being equal) they have a fair idea which compound to use come Sunday, does altering the tyre pressures a few PSI alter the grip / wear characteristics significantly? I.e Can the hard compound be made to work better with say a few PSI dropped, or the soft endure longer with PSI added?

Total votes: 91

My question is why just one tire suppler? Why not let each team pick their own rubber? I think it would make the tire suppliers work harder and come up with better compounds. MHO.

Total votes: 86

...we had a tire war that saw Michelin make tires over night for maximum performance and I guess it got to expensive for all parts. I belive the best for MotoGP is one tire supplier and it works good in WSBK.

Total votes: 86

The spec tire rule was put in place to prevent the "Saturday night specials" made for Rossi et al - specific tires for their bike and setup only that only select teams had access to. Michelin was especially good at this, and it resulted in a perceived advantage for those riders "good" enough to warrant these special tires. Thanks to the spec tire rule, there is now a more even footing for all teams.

A second aim for the spec tire rule was to make the racing closer - that obviously hasn't happened. In my view what you now have is the manufacturers building their bikes around the spec tires. To me, this seems the more expensive way to go - for example, how much is Ducati spending trying to figure out how to get enough heat in the Stones to generate traction, when a much cheaper solution would be to create a new tire that is Desmo specific?

Now I don't think a return to the good ol days of race-specific tires is a good idea, but I do think the spec tire rules need to go, and each manufacturer should be able to work with a tire vendor of their choice, who will then develop a line of tires for that specific bike - so, for example, Honda works with Bridgestone, Yamaha with Michelin, Ducati with Pirelli, etc. The tires that are created will be available to all riders on that make of bike. That, to me, would help make GP1 cheaper in the long run - it has to be cheaper to develop new tires than it is to develop a new subframe. Quicker as well. If you want teams to be able to catch up performance differences more quickly during the season, it seems that allowing differences in tires would be a good way to go.

The spec tire rule and the fuel limit are, to me, two things that need to be removed or modified, that would likely help the racing improve cheaply.

Total votes: 95

The single tire rule was put/fell into place because Michelin withdrew from the paddock because it didn't want to supply only 2-3 riders.

The 'Saturday night specials' were eliminated by the first round of tire supply rules requiring all riders to select their tires before the race weekend. This change in procedure really threw Michelin off their game as they were used to making tires to suit prevailing conditions, not having to accurately predict conditions in advance.

After a year of struggling with the new rules and dropping the ball big time (Laguna) several times Michelin riders started jumping ship. With a small number of 2nd tier riders being the last ones on Michelin they decided to withdraw from the paddock and refuse to put in a bid for the single tire contract. This lack of competing proposals for the spec tire contract allowed BS to dictate their terms to Dorna and we ended up with 2 compounds per race, no intermediates, and no upgrades during the entire season.

Since then we've had no significant improvements in street tire technology unlike the years during the tire war when race tire technology rapidly transferred to street tires: multi-compount, multi-layer, new carcass construction, etc. This technology development is not needed when everyone is using the same tire.

The moral of the story is don't micromanage manufacturers. Michelin had a technology to make tires to spec overnight. BS and Dunlop didn't. Michelin was successful but BS was making inroads at certain tracks but apparently not enough to be satisfied with. In effect, Michelin was penalized for their success. Instead of trying to advance their own technology BS goes the regulations route, having their disadvantage turned into an advantage through rulebook changes. As a result of those rulebook changes the once dominant supplier is forced out. End of innovation.

Chris
http://moto2-usa.blogspot.com/

Total votes: 105

I remember that a long time director of racing activities at Michelin retired around this time. Was this just before their struggles to adapt to the closed paddock rules?

Michelin still compete in Endurance racing. You'd think that such a series would produce more data that MotoGP. And did the single tire rule in F1 stop road tire development? I'm not refuting your idea, just asking out loud.

Total votes: 85

Could be that Michelin's internal changes helped their downfall. I don't know about endurance racing. Maybe tires aren't pushed like GP racing, maybe they are. I don't hear much about technology development from endurance racing, a big change from when the elfs were racing.

In F1 the tires are significantly different from what road cars use, the sidewalls are huge and construction is different. They run 13" rims! GP bike tires are very similar to other bike racing tires and except for the 16.5 rim just like production tires too. much easier for tech transfer to production items.

When they got the spec tire contract one of Pirelli's suggestions was to go with more of a modern tire profile to make development relevant to their products but it was quickly withdrawn for some reason. Then they got to make tires that don't last!

Chris
http://moto2-usa.blogspot.com/

Total votes: 108

The single tire rule was put into place before Michelin pulled out. In 2007 Rossi started complaining that the tires played too much of an equation on the outcome of the races THEN Dorna started kicking the tires on single tire rule. Which is the definition of the pot calling the kettle black since he won all his title up until that point on overnight specials and no complaints about tires since he was on the best. But as soon as someone else had something better than him he started to whine. Bridgestone didn't have any intention of supplying more teams - they were happy with Ducati and Suzuki. They didn't even want to supply Rossi's team in 2008 but was forced by Dorna. But when the tender was offer to tire suppliers for the single tire rule Michelin had no interest. Just like in F1, they stated they don't want to be in a series with no competition.

Total votes: 80

How could there be a single tire rule when there was more than one tire manufacturer? In 2007 before the single tire rule they started limited tire allocation chosen before the weekend started. BS, Michelin, and Dunlop were still supplying tires in this restricted year, Dunlop had unlimited supply because they had not won a dry race. During this restricted tire rule year besides Ducati/Stoner dominating, Michelin started screwing up causing Rossi and others to want to jump ship. Michelin just could figure out which tires to bring beforehand. Rossi jumped ship for greener pastures the start of the 2008 season and Pedrosa switched 1/2 way through. BS could not supply the entire grid with 31 (was that the quantity?) tires per rider. Michelin did not want to supply 2-3 riders. Dunlop already dropped out. With Michelin's overnight advantage lost and their top riders jumping ship they wanted to leave. They did not put in a bid for the single tire contract, BS was the only one. For 2009 the only option for Dorna was to accept BS' single tire proposal so they went with it.

I still don't know the reason for starting the initial tire restrictions and preventing overnight specials. Rossi was the primary beneficiary so I can't imagine him using his clout to give his advantage away.

Chris
http://moto2-usa.blogspot.com/

Total votes: 106

before the end of the 2008 season for the upcoming 2009 season if I remember correctly. Michelin did not pull out because they didn't want to supply a few teams - they pulled out because as a policy they only compete in series with open tire competition. Therefore they didn't put in a bid for the single tire supplier. It's the same reason they pulled out of F1 and didn't put in a bid to be the sole supplier over there when F1 went to a single tire. I'm not really sure Bridgestone really wanted to be a single supplier but it kind of fell in their lap.

Total votes: 92

Yes the single tire rule was in place at the end of 2008. No, they pulled out because they didn't want to only supply B teams. They didn't submit a single tire bid because they only compete in series with open tire competition.

http://www.tyrepress.com/index.php?news=10812

"If we don't have any factory teams I don't think we'll stay. Or we won't have a really good reason to continue the development,” Jean Philippe Weber, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing, told Eurosport.

Dated Sept 5, 2007. This was during the end of Stoner's dominating season and before they really started sucking in 2008. 2 months before Rossi jumped ship. Nobody was talking about crappy Michelins in 2007, the topic was Stoner/Ducati dominance. You could say Rossi's defection to BS was the underlying reason for Michelin to leave. It was a huge vote of no confidence to the company that gave him sole access to the best tires for years.

Chris
http://moto2-usa.blogspot.com/

Total votes: 88

I'd definitely take issue with your comment that "Since then we've had no significant improvements in street tire technology". I'd say that year on year street tyres are improving at a phenomenal pace; in fact sports-touring tyres are rivalling the trackday tyres of a few years ago for grip and steering, while offering hugely increased lifespan.

Michelin in particular have been aggressively introducing new technology and product and regular improvements to their street tyres ('Pure' and 'One' are two that spring to mind), and they have publicly stated that their absence from MotoGP has spurred them onto accelerate the improvements in their road tyre range.

Any tyre manufacturer that stands still these days very quickly gets left way behind.

Total votes: 89

Yes the tire guys are making small improvements on their tires but they are tweaking the technologies introduced from race development several years ago. There's nothing big and new in the pipeline.

Street tires are now as good as race tires of a few years ago. I say 'a few years ago' because current GP race tires seem to suck. The Q tires of yesteryear were amazing. Most riders said their level of grip was simply unbelievable. Q technology got worked on until it could be made to last a race, then eventually down to production tires you and I could buy for $200. No Qs now. Now the issue is simply trying to get the tire to work and retain heat. They only offer performance when pushed above 97% and riders continually have issues keeping heat in the tires in all conditions wet or dry. My question is how is this technology applicable to a street rider? It isn't. BS wrote a contract that let them get a lot of PR for a small investment. Rider tire supply went from 31 per weekend to 8 and they get to make all the tires at the beginning of the year since tire supply is unchanged over the entire season. It is a cost reduction program at its core. With these conditions how can they test and develop new technologies at a usable pace? Why would they even want to?

Chris
http://moto2-usa.blogspot.com/

Total votes: 88

I don't normally agree with rawdog - but I have to agree with him on this. MotoGp would be better off to return to open tire competition and also remove the fuel restrictions.

Total votes: 105

many times - open tire competition and no fuel restrictions. But I'm hoping your are not confusing ghostdog6 above with me - RawDawg. There is only 1! LOL!

Total votes: 85

While i can't speak specifically about the Bridgestone tires, I can say that changing air pressures can have a drastic affect on grip levels/tire life.

For example. Pirelli Diablo Superbike tires can be run 3-5psi lower hot and you'll greatly increase grip levels. The tire will also eat itself in a short period of time. At times it can be used to mask a handling issue. To try and get the tire to then last race distance isn't always possible based on abrasion levels of the circuit you're at.

Of course the opposite is true as well. On very abrasive tracks I've seen teams go much higher then recommended PSI, and then end up with a performance advantage at the end of the day.

Total votes: 103

I agree with a single tire manufacturer but I do not understand why bridgestone has to make a tire that is so difficult to get heat into with the sidewalls as they are now. There is no reason they can't make the tire a bit more pliable and easier for different chassis to work with. It seems like nearly every session of every weekend people are complaining about getting heat into the tires. I honestly feel this is falling on deaf ears at Bridgestone.

I think Bridgestone is failing to satisfy enough of the grid and their issues.

Total votes: 89

Does anyone recall how Michelin began to struggle so badly in 2007-8? I don't think the rules for a single supplier were motivated by Saturday Night Specials, as the closed paddock rules took care of that. But it was that disparity between the success of one tire company or another dictated the outcome so clearly. It was as if there were just two kinds of bikes on the grid. It went both ways and regardless of which company was succeeding it wasn't good for for the show.

I would like to see tire competition continue in some way. I just don't think there's a good way to do that and not recreate the two-tier grid.

Total votes: 85

David it seems strange to me that Pirelli can offer quite a large selection of tire compounds (as well as qualifiers) to the WSBK grid every weekend, yet bridgestone only ever provide 2. Do you know what the difference in cost is to the teams between series?

Total votes: 114

I agree with Brookespeed about the fact the the single tire came in due to the disparity between suppliers in 2007-08. The problem is that we had disparity before that too but no one seemed to care because Rossi had the good ones. It started to be a problem when bridgestone started manufacturing tires that were far better than his ones (Micheline).
IMO also, Bridgestone developed this tires in 2007-2008 and even there they were tricky to get heat into. Only stoner seemed capable of using them properly. After they became the unique supplier I think they managed to keep that compound as a basis (remember they didn't really want to become unique supplier,)

Total votes: 99

I think Bridgestone just made an advance that Michelin couldn't compete with. Rossi switched mid season and I remember things got much more consistent for him (maybe more grip between the ears!).

The option of switching could be a solution. If CRT racing is successful in bringing the price of racing back down to earth, in season testing could come back allowing for more tire solution testing. Consider the following:

-Participating tire companies would be required to make tires for the whole grid if requested (with enough lead time, see below)
-Binding contracts between teams and tire manufacturers would not be allowed
-Switching tire makes could only happen no more often than every 4 races to give notice to the tire makers and allow for testing.
-The fairing tail section of the bike would be reserved for the tire company.

I think this would give incentive for competition, dynamic adjustments in season and the ability for a team to take a risk and suddenly jump from worst to first with a new tire.

Total votes: 88

It took a couple of years for Bridgestone to reach the level of dominance that they had before the spec tire rule was introduced. Bridgestone never had the ability for the "saturday night specials" that Michelin did, so they were forced to develop tires in a way that ultimately ended up with them having better base tires. I remember how some tracks were Michelin tracks and some were Bridgestone tracks for a few years - I remember Tamada getting a win in Brazil, I think, as one of B-stone's first wins.

Once the option for the special tires was removed, it quickly became apparent that Michelin didn't have all that great of a base tire, and more and more teams began switching to the B-stones. Once Rossi switched it was game over, spec tires were introduced the next year, and Bridgestone has been it ever since.

Has the spec tire been cheaper? Probably. I don't have any way of knowing. Has it led to closer racing? I don't think so. Bike-specific tires might be a step in the right direction.

Total votes: 88

Unfortunately it's a bit late for bike specific tires as all the manufacturers (particularly Honda) have spent a fortune tailoring their machines to the Bridgestones. Rider specific tires might not be a bad shout though, particularly for the likes of poor old Toni Elias.

The Bridgestones rather bluntly reveal who has the set up and who hasn't for race distance, whereas in the past the guys who struggled in practice would throw in the softer compound/construction in the hopes of showing strongly at the start before fading towards the end. The riders with good set ups could hang back and come on strong towards the end.

If they returned to greater variation in compounds/constructions, the Stoners and Lorenzos would still win (with their ability to run hard tires), but some of the other guys could have a chance to shine in the early laps and give their sponsors a bit of air time.

Just a thought.

Total votes: 104

Unfortunately there's an inherent flaw in rider specific tires from the same manufacture. You create favoritism, and even if there really truly isn't you still create the question of doubt. Now what could resolve this without adding favoritism into the mix would be the single tire manufacture creating at least 5 different spec tires to choose from. This rises costs. But come on, it's only rubber here, it's not exactly expensive to make, its basically just R&D costs.

Total votes: 107

How much is exactly the cost diference between developing electronics to suit the tires and the cost of developing tyres to suit the bikes?

Total votes: 97

Bridgestone made great gains after F1 went to spec tyre & all the development engineers moved over to bike tyre division. Sailed straight past Michellin & left them standing. You snooze you lose.

Total votes: 91

"I sit in meetings with the team engineers on Thursday to agree upon the plan for the weekend. I carefully explain the tyre compound choices we have..." ...this must take hours and possibly involve pie charts.

I'd argue that single spec, at least this spec, contributes to predictable racing.

If I recall correct, It was Casey and Ducati doing the work and winning on the bridgestones at a time when everyone considered Michelin to be the tire.

Before him no one (at the front) wanted to touch them.

Pedrosa demanded BS mid season. Rossi demanded BS and split the factory Yamaha garage. Michelin dropped the ball a few races in a row. I recall the tire selection failing so badly at one event (laguna FP?) that the Michelin riders where using rain tires in the dry as the best option. Riders were livid and vocal.

From what I understand Michelin did not even bother to table a proposal when single spec was announced. Perhaps fearing the continuation of riders denouncing them at their own expense.

I wonder how much of an advantage this situation is for Stoner today (I know he would still win half the races if they ran scooters in the snow). It's natural to consult the fastest riders and accept their input if it conflicts with the slowest rider when wanting to improve the tire, but I think it's going to solidify the results a bit. To some degree the fast will get faster and the slow will get slower.

Imagine if they made the grid ride on tires that suited, say, Elias. Would he be the only alien? Or if they brought a medium compound to allow at least one real option. Would Avarvo fight for podiums?

Now they have tires that focus on giving the best performance for riders when they are on 'planet stoner' performance levels and that is all. Perhaps they should move the balance slider down a bit and make them work better at cooler and less extreme conditions, if this is not too naive of a suggestion.

I would settle for seeing Pirelli have a go. The racing in WSBK and even BSB has been fun to watch. It seems that they provide a much more neutral base tire.

Total votes: 90

Ducati switched to Bridgestones when Stoner was in 250s. They wanted to have input to the tire production and it didn't hurt that Mugello was a 'Ducati track'. Capirossi did well on them.

Total votes: 90

"Perhaps they should move the balance slider down a bit and make them work better at cooler and less extreme conditions, if this is not too naive of a suggestion."

From the 2012 prototype tests, we've heard that the new BS should work in a broader temperature range, mitigating the cold tires crash issues and being more consistent from the word go.
Some rider (Rossi?) wanted to have them introduced in 2011 but BS said no.
So we should be in for better and less extreme tires next year.

Total votes: 96

For one, in the 'old' days even riders using the same tyre manufacturer got different spec of tyres, and 1 or 2 of the top guys would get a 'Saturday night special' as mentioned above. This handed a significant advantage to, typically, the best riders on the best bikes, with the remainder of the field only ever able to be just making up numbers.

Secondly, when Michelin and Bridgestone both supplied there were some tracks that worked well for M, and some worked well for B ,and not many for both. This resulted in races where half field had no chance of a win, whoever rider on whatever bike, and spoiled the show to a large extent.

While the heat of competition is fantastic for development, the tyres we have today (both race and road) are outstanding and still moving forward, just not as fast. However, as a result of the single supplier rule every rider on the grid has the same chance as far as the tyres are concerned, and it means when rider 'A' does very well there is no niggling doubt that it was only because they had a 'special' tyre.

Obviously, if a particular rider can not get along with the spec tyre that is another issue, but that is a different story, and I have not read David's post on that yet!

Total votes: 86

Coming back to the Suzuki element of David's article, it seems to me that getting heat into the tyre has been a particular problem of theirs for some time. Since a number of riders have been through the Rizla team it seems unlikely that it's a rider issue; more a bike issue. Any idea which aspect of the design is causing the problem? Or why they're so slow to react? Cheers.

Total votes: 87