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GP Week : Issue 122
Rogue team rejects last-minute tyre change Moto GP news >> BRIDGESTONE responded to a growing chorus of complaints about their tyres with the offer of a special delivery of softer-compound tyres for race-day at Assen. Softer rears, as used at Silverstone, were to be trucked to Holland from the depot in Germany overnight. But even before they had packed the vehicle, one rogue team (thought to be Repsol Honda) rejected the offer, scuppering the chance for all. The regulations on fixed tyre supply can only be departed from with the agreement of all the teams. The emergency move came after Capirossi had joined the long list of riders having a closed-throttle corner-entry crash. It was on the sixth lap of a fast run in qualifying and, although cold rubber was not the most obvious cause, other riders had complained of the left side of the tyre cooling down on the long series of right-handers, and Capirossi (knocked about enough to miss the race) said: “the problem in left-hand corners we had already experienced in the morning’s free practice”. Complaints about tyre problems in the warm-up phase have been growing. Most recent victim Cal Crutchlow was a leading voice in a well-attended regular riders’ Safety Commission meeting on the first evening of practice. His team-mate Colin Edwards had suffered similarly a week before, also with a broken collar-bone; Rossi’s broken leg last year was for the same reason, and there have been as many as 60 such crashes in the last three years, according to Crutchlow. “ The Bridgestones are really fantastic, especially the way you can set your best lap at the end of the race. But there is this problem in the warm-up when they are so unpredictable, and it’s dangerous. Something needs to change,” said Crutchlow. “ We understand it can’t happen straight away, but we need something in the meantime – a bigger allocation of soft tyres maybe, and a plan for the future. “How many bones have to be broken before something is done?” Fresh from Superbikes, he said he would prefer if Bridgestone built tyres more like that series Pirellis (while retaining their superior quality control), that gripped well from the start, but were spinning up at the end of the race. “If it’s the same for everybody, that is safer,” he said. Ben Spies and Nicky Hayden were prominent among those in agreement; while other riders like Stoner and Rossi said they would prefer to retain the Bridgestone’s race performance, but without the warm-up difficulties. After the race, however, Stoner said unequivocally: “I don’t think Bridgestone are doing enough to help us. I’ve ridden better tyres from them in the past.” Bridgestone mercy dash spurned – by Honda? IMPROVING warm-up performance of the tyres would cost performance in other areas, leading to the possibility of overheating and blistering at the end of the race ... and this could be an even bigger risk, according to Hirohide Hamashima, assistant to the director of the Motorsport Tyre Development division. “ We always listen to the riders and we study our own data, then we include predictions of conditions for the races to come,” he said. At several races this year, including Silverstone, conditions had been much colder than expected, taking the tyres to the edge of their performance range. Riders had liked a prototype tyre tested at Estoril, with much quicker warm-up, but that tyre would not have the same race endurance, said Hamashima, adding: “It was a prototype. We need to put the materials and construction through a full testing procedure before we could make the tyre.” Because of shipping by sea from Japan, lead time for tyre changes was a couple of months, but even then major changes would be difficult for this season. Hamashima acknowledged the uphill nature of the task: “Riders always ask the impossible, but it makes the challenge more interesting,” he said. No easy answer for Bridgestone 15