As was the case last year, weather is likely to play a major role in the outcome of round ten of the championship at Donington Park in Great Britain. Although the British round is held one month later this year as a result of a change-around in the MotoGP calendar, conditions can be unpredictable.
Due to the cooler British climes and the smooth and flowing nature of the Donington Park circuit, Bridgestone has selected the softest tyre compound options for this weekend: the soft and the medium compound slicks. Coming prepared, the soft compound wet Bridgestone tyres will also be available, as used in Le Mans and Mugello. Donington Park is a medium-slow circuit with a low-grip surface that traditionally has been a tricky one for Bridgestone, despite recent results.
In the wet but slowly drying 2007 race, Casey Stoner and the Ducati Team brought Bridgestone’s first victory at Donington, and Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen finished third. Suzuki and Bridgestone also scored a podium in the wet 2005 race with Kenny Roberts Jr. Last year, Stoner also delivered Bridgestone’s first dry-weather win at Donington having recorded the first pole position for a Bridgestone-shod rider at the circuit. Bridgestone-shod riders filled the front row in qualifying and took the top two positions at the chequered flag.
The British Grand Prix is the longest race of the season at a total competitive distance of 120.69km. Most of the circuit’s corners are relatively slow, but the fast and flowing Craner Curves really test the shoulder grip of the tyres, especially through the left-hand kink. Here, riders and machines are also tested by the fast change of direction from right to left. The circuit places maximum emphasis on machine setup and riding style. In order for the tyres to deliver good traction on the low-grip surface, softer Bridgestone slicks must be used, but if a bike’s setup is not optimised or a rider is spinning the rear wheel too much on acceleration, it is easy to start generating excess temperature in the rubber leading to accelerated wear and degradation.
Hiroshi Yamada – Bridgestone Motorsport – Manager Motorcycle Sport Unit
“Donington is the last in a series of five races that have taken place in seven weeks, in the season’s busiest period. During this time we have seen some good racing and very close competition, so I am satisfied with the way in which we have been able to support the MotoGP series as the single tyre supplier this far. Donington has traditionally been a difficult race for tyres but I am confident for another good fight at the front before everyone can take a well-deserved summer break.”
Tohru Ubukata – Bridgestone Motorsport – Manager Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
“Donington Park has smooth asphalt and is one of the circuits that we class as slippery as it does not generate huge amounts of grip. Most of the corners are medium/slow right handers apart from the fast left handed kink of the Craner Curves, although the slightly uphill nature of this corner helps load the tyres and generate more grip. “We have chosen the soft and medium compound slicks for this grand prix because the slippery nature of the track would make it very difficult to generate suitable tyre temperatures in harder compound rubber. However, because the circuit is slippery, rear wheel spinning can occur if the setup of the bike is not optimised or if a rider is too early and too hard on the throttle. The Old Hairpin is also a crucial corner for tyre wear as unusually it is flat from the apex to the exit, when the riders are opening the throttle, which makes spinning more likely, accelerating wear. Donington really places the emphasis on the whole tyre, rider and machine package.”