Bridgestone Press Release - Masao Azuma Admits Bridgestone Puzzled By Extreme Front Tire Wear At Austin

As always after a MotoGP race, Bridgestone issued a press release containing their view of the race weekend. In this press release, Bridgestone's chief engineer Masao Azuma discusses the Japanese tire maker's experience of the Austin round of MotoGP. Azuma talks about the choice of the hard rear tire by Marc Marquez, and Bridgestone's hopes that the hard rear will see more use this season. But he also admits that Bridgestone has no ready explanation for the degradation of the front tire experienced by some riders, including Valentino Rossi. The Bridgestone press release appears below:

Americas MotoGP™ debrief with Masao Azuma

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft & Medium; Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)

The Americas Grand Prix at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas was won by Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez for the second successive year. In second place was Dani Pedrosa on the other Repsol Honda RC213V while Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso surged through the field in the second half of the race to take third place for his maiden podium with the Italian manufacturer.

Track conditions for the Americas Grand Prix were dry, although much cooler than the practice and qualifying sessions. A peak track temperature of just 33°C was recorded during the twenty-one lap race.

Q&A with Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department

Last weekend was the second race at Circuit of The Americas. How have track conditions developed in the year since the first race here?

“The grip levels of the track were better than in 2013 but overall the circuit has not changed much from last year. Some riders noticed it was bumpier in some sections of the track, particularly in the hard braking zones but the character of the circuit is basically the same. The better grip levels and the fact that riders had last year’s data to work with meant that the pace during the Friday practice session was much quicker than last year. This quick pace continued throughout the whole race weekend with new circuit records being set in qualifying and the race, and the overall race time being almost ten seconds quicker than last year.”

A number of factory Honda and Yamaha riders evaluated the hard compound rear tyre but in the end, only one rider Marc Marquez selected it for the race. Can you explain why more riders didn’t choose this option for the race?

“We were expecting more riders to use the hard compound rear slick for the race, but as track temperatures were a lot cooler for the race than the other afternoon sessions and there were also the possibility of some further rain, there may have been a shift among the factory riders to the medium compound rear. There were riders who considered to race with hard compound rear slick, but perhaps they changed their mind given the weather conditions on Sunday.

“Compared to the hard rear we offered at this circuit last year which Marquez also used to win the race, the 2014 specification hard compound rear slick has been engineered for greater edge grip. This improvement means that I expect more and more riders will use this as a race option at future races this year. Marc was very fast on the hard compound rear slick even in the morning sessions, so I think he was comfortable using this tyre for the race even if the conditions were cooler than expected.”

Some riders experienced high levels of abrasion on the medium compound front slick during the race. Was this something that occurred earlier in the race weekend and can you explain why this happened?

“The high abrasion on the right side of the front tyre that some riders experienced during the race was unexpected. There are some sections of the circuit that are quite demanding on the right side of the tyre, but our compound allocation for this race was designed to meet these demands. We need to look at all the variables including riding style, machine character and the track condition during the race to work out why we had such high levels of abrasion during the race, and why some riders were affected more than others. We can say with confidence that the tyres were not in any way faulty, just that the operating conditions during the race were a lot harsher when compared to last year and the practice sessions earlier in the race weekend.

“As we didn’t see these very high levels of abrasion last year or during practice and qualifying this year, the tyres and race data from the Americas Grand Prix will be analysed at our Technical Centre so that we can find out why this happened.”

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He says the tires were not faulty. But this doesn't make sense to me. I can't imagine that anyone is harder on his front tyre than Marquez. He enters corners doing a rolling stopie and on the side of his tyre all race long. How is it that he seemed to not suffer tyre degradation like the others did?

I'm not suggesting any sort of conspiracy. Just wondering if some of the riders did, indeed, get faulty tyres.

MM93 ran the medium front, same as all the others who had front problems. Marquez ran the hard rear. There was no hard front; soft and medium were offered.

I can only imagine how difficult it is to be a tire supplier and developer for MotoGP. However, even though I try to give Bridgestone the benefit of the doubt, I can't help but start to really question their abilities. Some of the mistakes and problems from their supplied tires over the last couple of years has really given their brand a bad image.

At least now we can put this to bed right? I can't see there being a chance of the 2013 spec tires making another appearance this year.

Even if the tire desintegrates into oblivion, they will never accept that is their fault. "It is the rider/bike/team/track/" fault, kind of press release
1- Same 2013 track - unlike Phillip Island
2- Cooler temps - meaning, temp is not an issue.
3- Better edge grip - stronger? durable?

Sorry, but I don't buy it.

Surely, with only one make available, it can't be too difficult to produce a tyre that will last a whole race for all riders. Never mind ultimate performance, just level the playing field and make it reliable.

It was heartbreaking watching Rossi slide back through the field last weekend after a brave effort, cruel for Redding, and disastrous for Crutchlow.

Yes, Marquez is a genius. Yes, the PBM bike is a bit rubbish. We know this. But between those two extremes, almost all of the results were determined by tyre degradation. This is utterly unacceptable.

So when do we get a tyre that will last a full race distance? Bridgestone? Hello..?

"So when do we get a tyre that will last a full race distance? Bridgestone? Hello..?"

Umm, we already have a tire that will go the full race distance... we got it in Qatar and from what I know we will get it in Argentina.

The tires used to last and everyone (except stoner) whined. MM did suffer tire issues, just look at the slo-mo shots that show his front.

straightforward. Look at my example:

"We were taken by surprise as the unexpected wear and failures could have not been predicted, based on all data aquired at COTA up until the race. We will work dilligently to find the root cause and solve the issue as quickly as possible so we can apply the lessons learned to the tyres of forthcomming GPs. Once more we reaffirm our commitement to supplying MotoGP with tyres of unquestionable excellence."

Where do I sign up?

It's a cultural thing. Most Japanese engineering focused companies have an undercurrent of "saving face" and honor that prevents this straight forward, matter of fact, press release. It is much more common for them to request more data to analyze and rationalize away the obvious problem when their product has a fault. No doubt the tires will improve through kaizen philosophy, but don't expect an outright admission of fault anytime soon.

A friend of mine builds tires for Goodyear, his observations were that it appears that the mixture wasn't blended adequately, which resulted in improper curing. That would give the results he saw in the pics, based upon usage.

Bridgestone would know this. But be damned if they're gonna admit to it, I'm sure.

“Compared to the hard rear we offered at this circuit last year which Marquez also used to win the race, the 2014 specification hard compound rear slick has been engineered for greater edge grip...."

the 14' tire? The one that wasn't there? or was it just the 14' front that wasn't there?????

Of 2007-2008 from a certain French corporation..... Sounds like they just used very old stock and Rossi/Bradl and co copped the worst of them.

I can't wait to see Bridgestone leave the series

"We can say with confidence that the tyres were not in any way faulty..."

The culture in Japan is very different from western culture and a lot of time
and energy is wasted on the concept of "saving face" within the culture in
Japan. The admission of a mistake is viewed differently in the Japanese
culture than it is in most western cultures.

If Bridgestone was a western company, it would admit mistakes have been made and those responsible would be removed from the company. That is
how progress is done in the real world. Instead the culture of denial and
"saving face" perverts the situation, and dissembling and lies instead of honesty are what the Bridgestone company tries to feed the public.

I've been involved in the tire business at a distributor level, but I have no
particular brand loyalty. However, I have observed that Bridgestone can't seem to really produce excellent rubber compounds like other companies
can, and for that reason I will never use Bridgestone tires on my cars or bikes, not even if the tires were free.

The best racers in the world deserve better. It is sad and disgusting that Dorna insists on feeding them this garbage.

"If Bridgestone was a western company, it would admit mistakes have been made and those responsible would be removed from the company"

Whatever it is you're smoking... puff puff give.

Someone on the forums asked the very smart question about the age of the tires....

If these things age like milk, even a set made just 2 years ago could be garbage. I doubt we will ever really know the truth.

In any case, we are back to the 2014 tires which worked just about perfectly in Qatar. I'm disappointed but not fearful for the future, unless the supply issues become a regular thing

Any one of the readers of Motomatters can easily predict what Bridgestones PR releases after a MotoGP race will contain. Now if Bridgestone's superior engineers could just predict what track conditions at future races will be and how that will affect their products we will all be better off, particularly the MotoGP riders.
A big thank you to Speeddog for the Redding link, that is an incredible image.

The issue here is not that the tires wore out, it is that only some tires wore out a lot faster then others. This is not a conspiracy theory saying that someone gave certain riders crap tires. I'm saying that if you are the ONE tire manufacturer for the biggest motorcycle class in the world then you are going to be held to a higher standard then that. I don't care if they simply made tires to last years specs and brought them, just as long as everyone gets the same tires to use. If anyone is going to tell me that Redding is just THAT hard on the brakes then let's all take a look at the Masterclass on braking that is Marquez, it has been said that NO ONE brakes harder then him. If it was the 2nd last lap or last quarter of the race then sure guys cook their tires or whatever, but this is unacceptable and the riders should be bringing it up to the safety commision. Let's hope they already have.

Same tires for all or GTFO Bridgestone!