Bridgestone Deny Lorenzo's Lack Of Grip Was Down To Tire Issue

As is customary, the Bridgestone media service issued their post-race debrief on tire performance on Tuesday, in which they discuss how the tires they selected held up during the race at Le Mans the previous weekend. This week's press release is more interesting than most, as it contains a denial from Bridgestone that there was anything wrong with the rear tire used by Jorge Lorenzo in the race on Sunday, countering claims that his tire was defective.

Speaking to the media after the race on Sunday, Lorenzo said that although he was not a tire engineer, he could think of no other explanation but a defective tire for the complete lack of rear grip he had suffered throughout the race. The setting they had used in the wet morning warm up had worked well, Lorenzo said. In 2012, under similar conditions, he had not had a single problem, he explained, going on to win the race by nearly 10 seconds. Lorenzo also pointed to the fact that Valentino Rossi had had problems with a tire on Saturday morning, and had that one replaced, as is allowed under the rules if a defective tire is found.

Bridgestone denied on Sunday night that there was a problem with Lorenzo's tire, and have reiterated their stance in the official press release. The tire was examined by both Bridgestone technicians and Yamaha engineers, and found to have normal wear only. Shinji Aoki, manager of Bridgestone's Motorsport Tire Development Department, gave Bridgestone's official response in the press release as follows: "It was clear during the race that Jorge had an issue as he couldn’t keep the same pace as the leading group. Immediately after the race he had a debrief session with his tyre engineer where he explained his lack of rear grip. As is always the case in these situations, his engineer thoroughly examined Jorge’s race tyres which were found to be in good working condition. In addition, I examined the tyre myself and personally discussed the matter with the Yamaha engineers and we all agreed that Jorge’s lack of rear grip was not attributable to his tyre. We received many different comments from the riders after the race on the feeling on the track, even though they all used the same specification of wet tyre and endured the same track conditions. In these low grip situations, machine set up is critical as the smallest setting change can have a big effect on performance."

Whether Lorenzo has changed his mind or not is still unclear, though the 2012 World Champion has gone back and deleted a number of messages he posted on Twitter on Sunday night. No doubt more questions will be asked once the MotoGP paddock arrives at Mugello, in just under two weeks' time.

Below is the full text of the press release issued by Bridgestone today:


French MotoGP™ debrief with Shinji Aoki

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Extra-soft, Soft Rear: Extra-soft (Symmetric), Soft, Medium (Asymmetric)

Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)

Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa won a wet and wild French Grand Prix ahead of second-placed Cal Crutchlow on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 M1 and teammate Marc Marquez who was third.

The riders were met with extremely challenging conditions at Le Mans for the fourth Grand Prix of the year, with wet asphalt and a track temperature of just 14°C at the beginning of the race, and a rapidly drying track surface which caused variable grip conditions towards the end of the twenty-eight lap contest.

Q&A with Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department

Cold and wet conditions were forecast for the weekend of the French Grand Prix and this is indeed what happened, can you explain how these conditions affected tyre performance at Le Mans?

“Yes the conditions were as expected but this didn’t make it any easier for the riders! Track temperatures were very cool, as low as 13°C and although we brought our softest tyre compounds to this race, the track didn’t provide the best grip levels, particularly in the morning sessions. The consensus from rider feedback was that tyre warm-up performance over the weekend was good, but even so the cool ambient temperatures and strong breeze meant some riders got caught out during practice and qualifying. The cold conditions also meant that very few riders tried the harder rear slick options as they wanted the best rear grip and warm-up performance possible, which is especially important at Le Mans which has a stop-and-go layout with a lot of acceleration zones.

“Sunday presented a different kind of challenge for the riders as the only time during the race weekend when track conditions were fully wet was at the beginning of the MotoGP race. Although morning warm up was declared wet, it wasn’t raining, so the level of standing water on track was less than at the beginning of the race. With such limited time to find a wet setup and considering that Le Mans requires good levels of rear grip, every rider ended up choosing the softer wet tyres for the race.

No riders selected the harder compound wet tyres for the race, but would this option have worked better towards the end of the race when the track was drier?

“Some riders actually did try the front and rear hard compound wet tyres in morning warm up, and other riders also scrubbed in a set of hard wet weather tyres on the sighting lap just before the race. However, because it was so cold which made the grip level of the circuit very low, every rider decided the soft compound wet tyre was the best choice, and I think this was the right choice given the conditions. Even though the track began to dry towards the end of the race, the rate of abrasion on the soft wet tyre was still within the acceptable range, so I don’t think the harder wet tyre would have given a performance advantage at the latter stages of the race. However, if the track temperature was say, five degrees warmer then I believe we would have seen some riders select the harder wet tyre for the race and this option may have given riders a performance advantage in some areas, particularly when braking.”

Jorge Lorenzo said he had a lack of rear grip during the race; did this have anything to do with his tyre?

“It was clear during the race that Jorge had an issue as he couldn’t keep the same pace as the leading group. Immediately after the race he had a debrief session with his tyre engineer where he explained his lack of rear grip. As is always the case in these situations, his engineer thoroughly examined Jorge’s race tyres which were found to be in good working condition. In addition, I examined the tyre myself and personally discussed the matter with the Yamaha engineers and we all agreed that Jorge’s lack of rear grip was not attributable to his tyre. We received many different comments from the riders after the race on the feeling on the track, even though they all used the same specification of wet tyre and endured the same track conditions. In these low grip situations, machine set up is critical as the smallest setting change can have a big effect on performance. In any case it was a shame for Jorge as he was so strong in morning warm-up and we all expected a better result from him, but he is a champion and I know he will be back to his competitive best at the next race.”

As is customary, the Bridgestone media service issued their post-race debrief on tire performance on Tuesday, in which they discuss how the tires they selected held up during the race at Le Mans the previous weekend. This week's press release is more interesting than most, as it contains a denial from Bridgestone that there was anything wrong with the rear tire used by Jorge Lorenzo in the race on Sunday, countering claims that his tire was defective.Speaking to the media after the race on Sunday, Lorenzo said that although he was not a tire engineer, he could think of no other explanation but a defective tire for the complete lack of rear grip he had suffered throughout the race. The setting they had used in the wet morning warm up had worked well, Lorenzo said. In 2012, under similar conditions, he had not had a single problem, he explained, going on to win the race by nearly 10 seconds. Lorenzo also pointed to the fact that Valentino Rossi had had problems with a tire on Saturday morning, and had that one replaced, as is allowed under the rules if a defective tire is found.

Comments

As difficult as it is to believe...

Sometimes even the best get it wrong. I think they simply got it wrong with the setup. What they got wrong is another matter. And I don't think anyone will get to know that, this year at least..

Total votes: 51

Considering his impressive

Considering his impressive podium run, he was probably quite miffed at such a huge lack of grip. Before Rossi crashed he seemed to be starting to go backwards too

Total votes: 43

Obvious

Well, we know who got Rossi's defective tire from earlier in the weekend.

Total votes: 45

dp

=)

Total votes: 36

really?

Unless the tyre had chunks flying off it caught on camera Bridgestone were never going to admit anything. It's one thing to admit to a dud tyre and swap it in practice, is a whole different ball game admitting that a tyre defect had a huge influence on a race result.
Maybe it was Lorenzos setup or maybe it was the tyre, either way I don't see any party owning up to making a mistake, especially Bridgestone.

Total votes: 54

LORENZO’S TYRE WOE

Given the Yamaha Factory Team & Lorenzo’s metronome-like consistency for several seasons, which would very strongly suggest they know exactly what they are doing with “set-up” – this is one of those strange ones that arise occasionally. As to Bridgestone’s exculpatory comments: - Mmmm, well – as Mandy Rice-Davies famously said in Court during the Profumo scandal, “Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?”

Race tyre construction is a technological “black art” with all materials, componentry & the build process itself being a tightly & strictly controlled business indeed. Tyres are produced in marked “batches” according to their intended use, type & compounding, which theoretically should negate any “variation”. However, there have been far too many rider experiences like Lorenzo’s Le Mans one to simply imply that the problem is a matter of Black & White allocation of singular fault or blame. After all, Rossi also complained of the same syndrome (a rogue or crook tyre) earlier in the week-end & Casey Stoner also had inexplicable tyre wear & feel problems in several races through 2012 too, after having been on various & usually immaculately reliable Bridgestones since 2007.

It is entirely possible that combinations or “mixes” of temperature, set-up, track surface & ambient conditions (how wet/how dry etc) can combine to affect rider “feel”, tyre grip & longevity. In other words – it isn’t a matter of fault or “excuse” – it’s just the way it is & riders with differing styles, albeit on the same bike & tyre compounding, can very well have quite different experiences. I will ‘fess-up at this juncture to having enjoyed a long exposure to bike & car racing with the Firestone/Bridgestone Company in the past.

These two excellent links may assist readers in a basic understanding of both the build process & tyre/bike set up: http://www.motorcyclistonline.com/features/122_0311_michelin_tire/ AND http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFO4f33Z8bQ

Cheers

Total votes: 41

I would agree with you 10

I would agree with you 10 years ago. But not now. Now we have cup tyres for motogp class. No racing between tyre companies. No building tyre overnight for next day race. Just easy steady manufacturing of cup tires... :) If B would make NEW and bad /in construction/ tyre for yamaha - all yamahas would have problem...

Total votes: 31

The tyre

OK, from this statement I can tell for sure that the tyre was not the problem for Lorenzo because Shinji Aoki has said that Yamaha has examined the tyre too:

"As is always the case in these situations, his engineer thoroughly examined Jorge’s race tyres which were found to be in good working condition. In addition, I examined the tyre myself and personally discussed the matter with the Yamaha engineers and we all agreed that Jorge’s lack of rear grip was not attributable to his tyre."

Total votes: 44

spdmon

...and yet Yamaha haven't confirmed that, have they?

Total votes: 26

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