The resurfacing of Phillip Island at the start of 2013 caused a massive problem in both MotoGP and Moto2 during last year's Australian Grand Prix. The vastly improved surface saw lap times drop and corner speeds go up dramatically. Marc Marquez' fastest race lap of the circuit was just over 2 seconds faster than Casey Stoner's best race lap the previous year, and just under Nicky Hayden's lap record of the circuit, which had stood since 2008.
The radically faster surface led to much greater heat build up in the tires, with the rear tires of both Moto2 and MotoGP bikes showing severe and dangerous degradation. The problems forced both Moto2 and MotoGP to be drastically reduced in length, the Moto2 race slashed from 25 to 13 laps, and the MotoGP race cut from 27 to 19 laps, with the added complication of being forced to come in and swap bikes, and hence rear tires. The compulsory pit stop caused a good deal of confusion, eventually leading to the disqualification of Marc Marquez for missing the compulsory pit window.
To avoid a repeat of the situation, both Dunlop and Bridgestone are bringing new tires to the track, with much harder compounds. Both tire manufacturers have been hard at work designing tires to cope with the surface, based on data collected at a test here in March, where the factory Honda, Yamaha and Ducati riders, along with two top Moto2 teams tested a large range of tires. Dunlop and Bridgestone are both now confident that their tires will last the full duration of the race without any major problems.
More interestingly, Bridgestone are bringing a radical new front tire to handle the very particular demands of Phillip Island. The circuit consists of a lot of left handers, with the final section leading back onto the main Gardner Straight getting ever faster. This places a lot of strain on the left-hand side of the tires (it was this which caused the biggest problems in 2013 for the rear tires), while leaving the right-hand side relatively unstressed, and allowing it to cool off. The asymmetric rear tires have been designed to cope with this, but there were still an unusually large number of crashes at both the Honda Hairpin and MG Corners, the two slower right handers which appear after a long time on the left side of the tire. Then there's the mighty Doohan corner at Turn 1, a very fast corner approached at high speed.
Bridgestone have decided to address these problems by using an asymmetric front tire, with different compounds on the left and right sides of the tire. In the past, riders have rejected such tires, as providing the necessary stability under braking with asymmetric fronts is exceptionally difficult. That meant the front would squirm under braking, making corner entry that much more difficult.
Bridgestone believe they have now cracked that problem, and when the asymmetric fronts were tested earlier in the year, they met with broad approval. So the Japanese tire maker will be debuting the tires at Phillip Island for the Australian Grand Prix. For the moment, only the softest (extra soft) of the three choices available for the front tire will be asymmetric. This is the obvious choice, as it is especially in the coldest conditions where the problems are greatest. The other two choices (soft and medium) will be standard symmetric tires. All of the rear tires will all be asymmetric.
Below are the press releases on tires from Bridgestone and Dunlop on the special tires they have brought for Phillip Island:
Bridgestone develops new tyre allocation for the 2014 Australian Grand Prix
Wednesday, October 15 2014
Bridgestone will introduce a brand new tyre allocation for the 2014 Australian Grand Prix, including a newly-developed asymmetric front slick tyre as the Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP™ continues its efforts to develop technologies that further enhance rider safety.
New advances in tyre construction and compound technology have enabled Bridgestone to create a front slick tyre that maintains the braking stability of a symmetric tyre, but with enhanced warm-up performance and edge grip. The asymmetric front slick is composed of two different rubber compounds, with one shoulder composed of a softer rubber compound. In the case of Phillip Island where there are five right-hand corners compared to seven left-hand corners, this softer rubber zone will be on the right shoulder. The new zoning of different rubber compounds on the front slick means that when the rider reaches a lean angle of approximately 30° in right-hand corners, they begin to use the zone of softer rubber on the front tyre for greater safety and performance while cornering.
For the Australian Grand Prix, the asymmetric front slick will be in the soft specification; meaning the left shoulder will use Bridgestone’s soft rubber compound, while the lesser-used right shoulder will utilise the extra-soft rubber compound for superior warm-up potential. This asymmetric front slick will be offered as part of Bridgestone’s standard front tyre allocation for Phillip Island, with the other two options of front tyre in the allocation being conventional, symmetric slick tyres.
The rear slick tyres Bridgestone will allocate to riders at Phillip Island have been developed specifically for the severe demands the Australian circuit places on rear tyres, and will feature developments in construction and compound technology that are not featured at any other circuit on the MotoGP™ calendar. The three rear slick options for Phillip Island; the soft, medium and hard compound provide the optimal combination of safety, durability and performance to suit the new Phillip Island track tarmac following its re-surfacing in late 2012.
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department
“After a concerted effort from our Technical Centre in Japan, we will introduce a brand new tyre allocation for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix. Since last year’s race at Phillip Island, we have tested at the circuit in a large variety of weather conditions to ensure our tyres will provide excellent durability and performance, while still providing good warm-up performance and usability for the riders. Such are the demands placed on the rear tyre at Phillip Island, that our rear slicks for this weekend use compound and construction technology that aren’t used at any other circuit on the calendar. Our test results with these new tyres were encouraging, and I am looking forward to seeing them in a race situation this weekend.
“Our new asymmetric front slick is the result of a long development programme and I am pleased to see this new technology makes its debut in the MotoGP World Championship this weekend. The innovative technology we’ve introduced on this asymmetric front slick will ensure that the riders will still enjoy the same high level of braking stability they associate with our symmetric front slick, but with better grip and warm-up performance while cornering. This development is yet another example of our commitment to continue developing new MotoGP tyre technology”
Dunlop Takes Bespoke High Performance Distance Proven Tyre Options To Phillip Island
After the resurfacing in 2013, high grip levels are expected again for this year’s Phillip Island round of the FIM Moto World Championships. The South-Eastern Australian venue is rated as one of the most aggressive in the world but a March tyre test at the track and bespoke Dunlop Moto2 development has produced race-distance proven special hard options for this visit.
Dunlop spent three days testing at the track in March with two teams and four riders focussing on durability and pace, establishing options that achieved race distance with faster lap times than 2013. In the all-important twisty sections, the Moto2 pace was faster than most MotoGP bike times. The new designs feature low heat generation and heat resistant compounds in addition to new tread constructions and belt materials. Three tyres from the test were agreed to be favoured options for the race from which Dunlop has selected the two most suitable for racing conditions at the track this weekend.
The 4,448 metre circuit has five right and seven left turns and the increased grip last year brought new lap records from the first practice sessions. Any track presents the task of balancing maximum speed potential with race distance needs and the Dunlop engineers will work particularly closely with the teams to help get optimum tyre and bike settings for the 25 lap Phillip Island race.
After success in Japan using the new Moto3 H2 front compound and construction Dunlop will allocate the same front tyre choice in Australia. Moto3 riders were able to increase their confidence with this harder tyre much more than in previous events. In Moto2, the medium and hard options will be available for the front with the two bespoke special hard specifications for the rear.
Tyre allocation and colour codes:
Fronts 120/75R17, 3 x 123 (hard - yellow Dunlop on black) and 5 x 302 (medium - black Dunlop on silver)
Rears, 195/75R17, ATR25 067 (Special Hard) x 5 – 195/75R17 Moto2 ATR26 4077 (Special hard2) x 4
Fronts: 95/75R17, 5 x Medium (black Dunlop on silver) and 3 x Hard H2 (yellow Dunlop on black)
Rears: 115/75R17 , 6 x Medium (black Dunlop on silver)and 3 x Hard (yellow Dunlop on black)
The riders will have three sets of wet tyres with an additional set being permitted if all sessions are declared wet.
Race Stat: Fastest Laps
Dunlop tyres are designed to perform as consistently throughout a race as possible. Motegi’s Moto2 race was an excellent example of performance with the fastest lap being set an impressive thirteen times throughout the 23 lap race. Luthi took seven of the fastest laps, Viñales four times, with Rabat and Kallio taking one each. Maverick Viñales set the final fastest time on lap 19, setting another new record for the track.
Clinton Howe, Operations Manager Motorcycle Grand Prix
“In March this year we tested at Phillip Island with Team Aspar and Marc VDS Racing. Riders Nico Terol, Jordi Torres, Mika Kallio and Tito Rabat were able to race at a very good pace for a race distance on both front and rear options and all agreed that the tyres we have brought here this weekend were the best options. Tito lapped at least half a second faster than the fastest 2013 fastest race lap on all three test days and beat all but two of the MotoGP sector one times. As well as pace we put in several race simulation runs and covered well over 800 laps so it will be great to see the tyres in race conditions after all the hard work and investment.
“As always here, the weather will probably be very mixed and it is unlikely that we will see fewer than three seasons worth of weather conditions. We have a good range that works well across changing conditions but the teams can need to make difficult decisions depending on weather forecasts.”