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GP Week : Issue 125
Aquartet of high-profile crashes in the first free practice – Stoner, Pedrosa, Rossi and Elias all flying off on the fast left-hander before the steep downhill back straight – put a slightly different focus on the tyre complaints that have become a chorus over the past five or six races. The Bridgestone problems of crashes blamed on poor warm-up performance have all so far involved losing the back end, usually off-throttle on corner entry. At the Sachsenring crashes were caused by riders losing the front. Bridgestone had brought the very softest rubber from their cabinet of compounds for the asymmetric rear. Result? It pushed the front, and in cold Friday morning conditions it gave way. It’s all a matter of balance. The company has acted to try to solve the problems (see separate News story). At the same time, a new question emerged . . . should there also be mixed-compound (asymmetric) front tyres as well as rear? Opinions among riders were mixed but generally leaned away from them. Rossi for instance said they might be good for this track and Phillip Island, both of which have a heavy left-hand bias with their anticlockwise direction and design. But he agreed also with Stoner, who was concerned that asymmetry might make braking performance distinctly dodgy. In fact, they have been tried – by both Bridgestone and Michelin when they were head to head, and by Dunlop when they were trying to catch up, “about ten years ago,” according to former chief Jeremy Ferguson. But they were very seldom race, if ever. As both Ferguson and a Bridgestone staffer agreed, confidence and trust in the front tyre is everything. Riders tended to choose one tyre, and use it all year, said Ferguson. Any variation in grip, especially from one side to the other, is extremely difficult to adjust to. The answer? Tyres and their behaviour is a much more complicated subject than a layman can easily understand. Trusting the front MOTOGP GERMANY >> 29