The 2010 MotoGP season gets underway beneath the floodlights of the Losail circuit in Qatar on 11 April, and Bridgestone has adopted a different approach to slick tyre compound selection for the inaugural race. Last year, soft and medium compounds were available but this time round
the selected slick tyre compounds are harder.
There is also a difference in the way that front slick tyre compounds have been selected by Bridgestone for the season's only night race. Normally they are adjacent compounds from Bridgestone's range, but for Qatar the medium and the extra hard compounds have been chosen, for good reason.
The ambient temperature for the night race will be cool, around 25 degrees Celsius, so the medium compound is needed to provide a good level of grip and performance in these conditions, but if the track is sandy its character changes and a harder option is required to provide adequate durability and resist graining. All riders have experience of these compounds at Losail because the same tyre specifications were used at the last pre-season test in Qatar.
Ducati Team's Casey Stoner has dominated in Qatar in recent years, winning every edition of the race since 2007 on Bridgestone tyres. He can also lay claim to the race lap record, although the circuit is one of only a handful on the calendar at which a Bridgestone-shod rider has not yet set the outright fastest pole position record.
Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
"I am excited to be starting our second season as the Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP, working with the world's best riders. Last year tyre allocation proved fair and effective so our process will remain the same, with Bridgestone remaining totally impartial throughout, but there is a slight change to the front tyre compound choice given to riders. Every rider will now select the compound split of his final two front tyres after the first free practice session. This will give us some extra work compared to last year but we are happy to do this because it will help rider satisfaction by allowing them to choose more of the front tyre compound that is working better for them at each race.
"Withthe new riders and team line-ups, I'm sure that many exciting battles will emerge throughout this season. We have worked closely with all new riders and teams during the off-season, building good working relationships with each, so I feel confident that we are in a strong position to support all riders equally and fairly right from the first race."
Tohru Ubukata - Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department
"Qatar is the only race of the year to be run at night and in the desert, both of which bring unique challenges. Being run at night under spotlights, the track temperature is around the lowest of the year in dry conditions but the desert sand often blows across the circuit, making the slippery surface very abrasive. This makes it very tough for tyres, especially on the right shoulders, as they have to be soft enough to provide grip with the low track temperature but hard enough to resist wear and graining whilst having sufficient strength to cope with the heavy braking points.
"Consequently we have adopted a different approach to tyre compound choices this time round, opting to bring the medium and extra hard compound front slick tyres. The medium compound gives good grip in the cool conditions when the track is clean, but when the track gets sandy its character changes dramatically so we need a tyre that is significantly harder to offer suitable durability over a race distance without graining.
"Tyre performance during the test was good when the track was dirtier than we expect it will be for the race, so I am happy. Times were reasonably fast considering the use of harder compounds, which were favoured by almost all riders throughout the test because of their increased durability. Even with the sand, some riders completed race distance with good consistency so I am confident about tyre performance for this opening round of the season."