The Suzuka 8-Hours is dominated by Bridgestone tire. Why is that? And what is the difference between a Bridgestone a Pirelli, and a Michelin at this iconic race?
Even the most talkative factory riders get tight-lipped when the topic of tires is raised. Jonathan Rea was asked after securing pole position for tomorrow's Suzuka 8-Hours about the feeling he has with Bridgestone tires, compared to using Pirelli rubber in WorldSBK. The three-time world champion sidestepped that landmine with customary ease by saying, “both are very high performance tires.” It was a similar situation when talking with MotoGP riders about comparing to Michelin tires in recent years.
There are, however, some outliers in the paddock. Riders with experience of Bridgestone, Pirelli, and Michelin tires, and who are able to speak about the contrasts. Both Michael Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli have plenty of experience on all three brands, with Laverty even acting as a MotoGP test rider at the time when the French manufacturer was building their initial batch of tires for their return to Grand Prix racing.
Speaking about the contrast between the Bridgestone-shod front-runners at the Suzuka 8-Hours and the Pirellis on his BMW, the Northern Irishman offered his thoughts on the differences in riding styles. “The biggest difference is the drop off in lap time with a Pirelli is significant, and in the hotter temperatures here in Suzuka, it's quite difficult,” said Laverty. “In Europe, the temperature isn't quite as hot, so you can compete."
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