Bridgestone is to respond to the storm of criticism it has faced over the warm up procedure of its tires this year, by bringing a softer compound of tires to the Laguna Seca, Brno, Motorland Aragon and Motegi rounds of MotoGP. The Japanese tire manufacturer faced severe criticism from riders throughout the year over the difficulties they have in getting the tire up to operating temperature, with cold-tire crashes by Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow seeing the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha riders both breaking collarbones in consecutive races, and several other high-profile crashes disrupting practice and racing.
The plan - presented yesterday to all of the riders by Bridgestone representatives, then discussed in the Safety Commission - is for the current allocation of tires to be modified, with the harder of the two tires being dropped, and a softer tire being added. In effect, the old soft tire becomes the new harder option, and the new tire added to the allocation becomes the new softer option. The switch will be made for the four tracks which are most likely to throw up the coldest conditions, with Laguna Seca infamous for the morning mist which can cool the track, Aragon having very cold mornings, and the possibility of rain and cold temperatures at Brno and in Japan.
The irony of the situation is that Bridgestone have already improved the warmup procedures of their tires, but the improvement has been largely lost due to the much colder and wetter conditions that the MotoGP season has faced this year. Track temperatures at Assen were fully 15 degrees Celsius below temperatures last year, following a pattern that has been seen all season. The offer to bring in softer tires has been made to deal with the colder weather the MotoGP circus has faced.
The riders have met the offer with enthusiasm. Though they would much prefer to have a greater selection of tires - a preference expressed publicly by Marco Simoncelli, Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Cal Crutchlow and a host of other riders - but this is a solution that they can live with. "For me, the best choice would be to bring more choice of tires for each weekend, then when they check the temperatures, see which tires we can use," Simoncelli said at Mugello, "but this change for the four races is good."