For the 2011 Indianapolis Grand Prix the infield section, from turns five to the final corner, had been resurfaced which left the tarmac much smoother than previously but provided several new challenges for the tyres and the riders. Ultimately, the new surface was much faster with a new qualifying record and lap record being set by Casey Stoner, who on Sunday also set a new fastest total race time, but at the start of the weekend it was very slippery and provided something of a moving target for the teams in terms of setup. Stoner romped to victory, his seventh of the season, ahead of Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa and American Ben Spies.
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium, Hard. Rear (asymmetric): Hard, Extra Hard
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division
What can you say about the new surface and what did it mean for tyre performance?
“The new surface started off slippery on Friday morning and because of this we experienced quite a bit of tyre graining during the first free practice, particularly of the rear tyres. The more laps were run on the circuit however, across all classes, the more conditions improved. The line became clearer and more grippy as more rubber was laid down on the racing line and this changed the challenge for the tyres and also the focus of bike setup. As the general grip level improved, rear tyre graining was reduced a great deal but as rear grip improved, many riders experienced the front tyre pushing and so front tyre graining and wear rate were higher, and this point in particular proved decisive in the outcome of the race. In fact, I can say that overall durability was good as many riders set their fastest laps towards the end of the race, including Casey’s lap record on lap 20 and Andrea whose personal best came on the very last lap.
“The conditions over the weekend demonstrated very clearly the importance of a good rider and machine package in maximising tyre performance. Apart from Nicky, every rider used exactly the same tyre specifications in the race yet there were those such as Casey, Dani and Ben who were able to lap much more consistently than others and had a much better wear rate of their tyres.
“By the end of the race we could see just by the wear appearance of the tyres that the grip and character of new tarmac was much better, but I don’t think it has reached its full potential yet. The wear appearance of the tyres, particularly from those at the front of the field, was the best it had been all weekend after the race so I think, bearing in mind how new the tarmac is and how little it had been used before this GP, IMS have done a good job in their resurfacing work.”
What can you say about the tyre compounds Bridgestone selected for the Grand Prix?
“I am satisfied we chose the best-suited tyre compounds, front and rear, for this Grand Prix. In general, front tyre performance was good all weekend and we had no tyre problems. As the track condition and bike setups changed, different demands were placed on the fronts and in some instances this led to graining, but this is a symptom of the new track surface rather than a tyre issue and selecting different compounds would have made no positive difference. We will carefully analyse race tyre performance but based on the new surface we may revise the tyre severity rating for next year, although by then the character may have changed again so we will need to carefully consider this.
“For rear tyres, there were some rider comments on Friday, when the track was in its worst condition of the weekend that the extra hard compound rear was too hard to be used, but the balance at Indianapolis is one of tyre temperature. Even though the circuit was slippery, rear tyre temperature was very high, particularly in the left shoulders, and by the end of the race some riders experienced small blisters, which is incredibly rare. Had we chosen a softer rear compound, initial grip would have been improved but durability would have suffered meaning it wouldn’t have been a suitable option for the race.”
Source: Bridgestone Motorsport
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