2010 Laguna Seca MotoGP FP1 Result: Stoner Already Pushing Lap Record

Casey Stoner topped the timesheets after the first day of practice at the Red Bull US GP, the Marlboro Ducati rider getting within a couple of tenths of the lap record after just a single session. Stoner's first run seemed a lot less promising, the Australian heading back into the pits where his second bike had its setup radically revised, before taking to the track once again to lay down his usual scorching pace. Jorge Lorenzo was the only man to get near for most of practice, the Fiat Yamaha rider leading the first half of the session before being eclipsed by Stoner in the second half.

Towards the end of the session, Stoner and Lorenzo were joined by the two Repsol Hondas, Andrea Dovizioso coming out comfortably ahead of teammate Dani Pedrosa, the Italian running extremely well at Laguna. In 5th place, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Ben Spies showed what a difference track knowledge makes, working on setup on Friday instead of learning his way around a new circuit, and getting within spitting distance of Pedrosa. Spies also finished ahead of the Fiat Yamaha of Valentino Rossi, the Italian suffering no so much with his pinned leg, but more with his shoulder as he muscled his way down the Corkscrew.

Rossi was the meat in an American sandwich, with Marlboro Ducati's Nicky Hayden and Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Colin Edwards behind him in 7th and 8th, while San Carlo Gresini's Marco Melandri ended the day in 9th. Pramac Ducati rider Aleix Espargaro rounded out the top ten, the Spanish rookie having been given the green light to race, after a fractured vertebra found after his crash at the Sachsenring turned out to be old, and not a reason to prevent Espargaro from riding.


Pos No. Rider Bike Time Diff Diff Previous
1 27 Casey STONER DUCATI 1'21.699    
2 99 Jorge LORENZO YAMAHA 1'21.932 0.233 0.233
3 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO HONDA 1'22.225 0.526 0.293
4 26 Dani PEDROSA HONDA 1'22.559 0.860 0.334
5 11 Ben SPIES YAMAHA 1'22.640 0.941 0.081
6 46 Valentino ROSSI YAMAHA 1'22.660 0.961 0.020
7 69 Nicky HAYDEN DUCATI 1'22.902 1.203 0.242
8 5 Colin EDWARDS YAMAHA 1'22.971 1.272 0.069
9 33 Marco MELANDRI HONDA 1'23.021 1.322 0.050
10 41 Aleix ESPARGARO DUCATI 1'23.693 1.994 0.672
11 36 Mika KALLIO DUCATI 1'23.825 2.126 0.132
12 58 Marco SIMONCELLI HONDA 1'24.002 2.303 0.177
13 40 Hector BARBERA DUCATI 1'24.326 2.627 0.324
14 15 Alex DEANGELIS HONDA 1'24.615 2.916 0.289
15 65 Loris CAPIROSSI SUZUKI 1'24.710 3.011 0.095
16 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA SUZUKI 1'25.031 3.332 0.321
17 95 Roger Lee HAYDEN HONDA 1'25.432 3.733 0.401
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Almost on last years pole time in FP1, I guess the Bridgestones aren't so horrible after all. :)

Ben didn't seem to have too much trouble with new tracks last year, he seemed to learn them just as soon as his tyres hit the road. I just wonder why the commentators are saying, when he struggles this year, the 'new track' is postulated as the reason. It sounds to me more like the 800's are so much more precise and unforgiving that it's more of a combination of new track and bike, the latter being more of a factor than the former.

to the 800cc bikes being a whole different ball game compared to the Superbikes. Learning them on a new track is a whole different deal.

I'd love it if Casey won this one.

I couldn't say this here...an hour ago, while FP1 was happening, so I put it on the other article, but now am transplanting it to here, where it rightly belongs.

Speaking of tire problems, I think that I'm looking at a recipe for disaster. What I'm seeing could cause some BIG waves in the waters of this whole "hard tire" brouhaha. I'm seeing (what I consider to be) a tried-and-true tactic for getting more heat into the tires...taken to the extreme. I know that what I'm about to say is nothing new, and that what is being done happens ALL the time, but I've never seen it done to THIS extent.

OK. That said, here we go:

I'm watching FP1 right now, and the on-board shots from Ben Spies' bike are, to put it bluntly, TERRIFYING.

The camera facing forward from the fairing under his engine is getting some scintillating footage of Ben's front tire. I hope that someone else is seeing this, because HIS TIRE PRESSURE IS LOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!!!

I apologise for shouting, and I know that we're supposed to use our "inside voice" here, but flippin' HECK, the sidewall and "tread" of Spies' front tire are "squishing down" SO VERY FAR! Judging by how extremely "flat" Ben's tire is, it looks like he must be running 10-12 pounds less air pressure in his front tire than the other riders I've seen. I mean, seriously, he is running that front tire LOW on air pressure. I've been watching Moto GP for 10 years (yeah, I'm a noob...), and I've seen MANY on-board shots of tires. I've seen sidewall buckling/"tread" flattening in amounts that are baaaarely perceptible, in moderate amounts, and in pretty dang high amounts. Then, there's today. Today just took the cake.

If that tire were to fail, and if Ben sustained injuries from the failure of said tire...that could cause some major problems. I remember all too well when Michelin had tires so hard that they had to run wet tires to get some heat into them. Ben Spies running dangerously low tire pressure to generate some heat...sounds like...well...BAD. It's a logical way to get some extra heat, but I think he's taking it a bit further than is ideal or prudent.

Go back and watch FP1. When they show the on-board shots of his front tire, you'll see what I'm talking about...

Well, that's my cent-and-a-half worth for today...

(Oh, and if anyone's seen lower pressure than that before...please let me know, because that just scares me. If I saw someone on the road driving or riding on a tire that low, I would pull up to them and tell them that they had a tire going flat!)

I could be wrong for a number of reasons but from what I know, if you want heat in your tires, (quicker) you set your pressures higher. If anything tire pressures might be set low to generate heat more slowly to conserve your tire over a longer period of time. This would explain why he excels in the latter stages of the race, no?

twitter @deftjester

Its complicated. higher pressure will reduce contact patch and cause the patch to get hotter, and the carcass cooler (less flex). lower pressures will increase contact patch and cool the tread, and overheat the carcass. all of this has limits, and too low and the patch buckles...

...to be TOOOOO geeky about this, but as I understand it...

Increasing your tire pressure effectively lowers both your traction and the ability to put and keep heat in your tires, because the tire is more rigid. A harder tire (one with more air pressure) doesn't have as much grip as a softer one (i.e. the same tire with lower air pressure). Put another way: all things equal, the same tire with higher air pressure will produce less grip and less heat, because it's more rigid. (This DOES mean that, in the longer term, it can VERY possibly last a considerably further distance, though, but that's getting deeper into this whole can of worms...)

Because of this higher rigidity, it doesn't deform/flatten as much at the contact patch where the tire makes contact with the road, and less deforming at the contact patch makes your contact patch smaller. A smaller contact patch isn't generating as much friction and heat as a larger one, because there is a physically smaller area scrubbing against the tarmac.

Lower pressure means more deforming of the tire, and therefore, a larger contact patch. A larger contact patch is a larger footprint. A larger footprint means more tire is in contact with the track surface, which means more friction between tire and track, which is kind of a really simplified definition of TRACTION, and which brings us to HEAT...

This friction/traction/mechanical grip is what causes HEAT, which increases the grip of the rubber that's in contact with the tarmac.

So, more rubber on the road equals more traction, more friction, and more heat.

The most extreme example of this can be found in drag racing, where they run in the neighborhood of 5 PSI (!) in their tires, so that they get the maximum contact patch/footprint/traction possible. The lower the pressure in your tires, the more they spread out when pressed to the tarmac, which raises friction, traction, and temperature. Temperature is also why drag racers do the burnout beforehand, to dramatically raise the temperature and make the tires stickier. The downside being that the tire will wear out much more quickly, fuel mileage is slightly affected, but if pressure is too low, the structural integrity of the tire can fail under high loads, especially lateral loads. This isn't an issue with drag racing, but definitely CAN be with road racing.

There. That's my understanding of how it all works. I truly hope I wasn't too overly nerdy, but that's how I grasp the concept. I have, of course, excluded the whole topic of aero grip, but that's not something we really ever talk about much in Moto GP. Drag racing and F1, sure, but not really much of an issue here, for the most part...

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go change the pens in my pocket protector, and I need to lay out my clip-on ties for work next week. :)

These guy's are right.

/puts on geek hat.

Higher pressure means less deformation under load. The tyre carcass does less work and generates less heat.

Lower pressure means more deformation under load. The tyre carcass does more work and generates more heat.

Remember temp is closely related to pressure, so Ben could have been on an out lap with cold/low pressure tyre.

Let's not forget the quality of the opposition, Ben has moved a "rung up the ladder" coming to MotoGP and has said this several times himself.
He's doing just fine and is going to take a season or two to work out those very adjustable MotoGP bikes.
I saw an recent interview with him online, seems to have a real level headed methodical approach to the whole thing, good luck to him I reckon and I'm not even a yank!

Crazy that a Yoshimura GSXR-1000 in WSS trim could match lap times with a GSVR 800.

I did a story for Road Racer X magazine on the bikes that won at Laguna, so I interviewed a bunch of people about the bikes. They all said "it wasn't the bike." Laguna is the kind of track where track knowledge and a willingness to push can gain you half a second. So it doesn't really mean much.

What was worse was the GSXR matching the GSVR's pace at Phillip Island last year. That's embarrassing.

Did anyone else notice after Stoners first 3 laps he came in and waited as they switched parts 2 his 2nd bike, Bad engine in first bike?? Regardless, he went out with the old fairings without the wings. Is the transition down the corkscrew causing the bike to lift with the wings on it?.... Just an observation.

and have nothing to do with downforce - nor are they lilely to be large enough to cause any appreciable lift - if they did then the Ducs would be wheelieing for ages on fast corner exits. What they do is cause a high-energy flow of air past the cooling exit ducts that drags more air through the radiator/s - but it sounds as if they're not needed too much at Laguna at the moment.

The announcers on Eurosport during the last race said the wings were indeed for downforce so I'm inclined to listen to them unless they say otherwise this weekend. They mentioned they were there to try and keep the front down on long straights, something Laguna doesn't have is a long straight.

Have another look at them.

Aerofoil profile and curved to induce lift. They are upside down, so lift becomes downforce. Casey said he could feel them working at high speed, and they are there to reduce wheelies by pulling the front down.

Actually, Ducati themselves said that the winglets are also to aid downforce - previously if they only had 10kg of downforce at a given speed, then the winglets double that to 20kg.

Gentlemen, my apologies for misleading you. It's great the way Ducati releases detailed information about its technical secrets, eh? Should be more of it, I say.