PHOTOGRAPHY BY GOLD & GOOSE
PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA, MAR. 2 – Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo was the fastest of the factory riders on the first day of the much-anticipated three-day MotoGP tire test at Phillip Island. And while Lorenzo was happy to be at the top of the time sheets after a tough Sepang, the focus of the test was tires.
After last year’s tire debacle at the Australian Grand Prix – a result of the circuit’s new surface – Bridgestone scheduled the test with the three factory teams: Yamaha, Repsol Honda, and Ducati (still testing factory tires although they recently declared they’ll race in the Open class).
Bridgestone’s format for today’s MotoGP test was for each rider to test last year’s race tire and three new tire options. There were a total of six new tire options that were separated in two categories – compound changes and construction changes. The riders began the day with last year’s tire and then were scheduled to do two six-lap runs on each of the new tires. Jorge Lorenzo, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso tested the tires with the new rubber while Dovizioso’s teammate Cal Crutchlow and Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi tested the tires with the new construction.
For the most part the rider’s preferred last year’s race tire. But the fastest man of the day, Lorenzo, got his time on one of the new tires that he preferred out of the three.
“Very similar,” Lorenzo said comparing the new tire to last year’s. “For simple the last one in general was better to make a lap time, but the warming up was a little bit worse. Also in the traction area was a little bit softer. So we still don’t know which is the best.”
While Pedrosa set his fastest time with last year’s tire, he shared the same consensus that one of the three new compound tires stood out as the best.
“On performance, I think the race tire was the most performing,” Pedrosa said. “The other ones are more into the safety side. But one of the tires I try was more performing than the others.”
Dovizioso also felt that one of the new compound tires was similar to last year’s tire but with more longevity.
“The difference it wasn’t so big compared to the one we used in the race last year – about the feeling and about the lap time, but the consistency was a little bit more,” Dovizioso said. “So is interesting. I cannot say is a right tire for the race because the condition is different and still we didn’t make too many laps.”
On the other side of the coin, Crutchlow and Rossi tested the tires with the new construction. Both rider’s preferred and set their fastest time on last year’s race tire.
“The normal race tire we clarified straight away that it was a lot better,” Crutchlow said. “And it was the one that lasted the most. It was the one that was most consistent. We did 27 laps on it this morning.
“I said to Bridgestone at lunch time we might as well go home because I was already pleased with the normal race tire. There was no blistering and we’d done a lot of laps on it and it seemed good. The rest of the stuff I was already a bit worried about and it was confirmed when I tested it.”
All of the riders will test the other three tomorrow, so Crutchlow might be happier with one of those. But he was not comfortable with the new construction tires and only did the first six laps on one of them because the lack of grip for him was too much.
“Me and Valentino [Rossi] tested the same tires and I think we both scrapped that tire because It was too bad to put in for the second time,” Crutchlow said. “We couldn’t do the second six laps because they were too bad. They were bad for grip for me anyway. And Valentino… I saw him out on track the same time and he looked exactly the same as me.”
As for Rossi, he was able to find some good things about the new tires. But of the new tires he tested today, it lacked the same performance as last year’s.
“I find something not so bad, Rossi said. “Not about the performance, but about the life of the tire. So it is something good, something bad, but already we have some good way to follow.
“For me the target is to try to have the same performance with more life,” Rossi added. “If we are able to achieve this result I am very happy. It is not possible I think to have the tire that is faster and stay longer. So the good thing, if Bridgestone work in the right way, is that have a tire that can resist for all the race without lose a lot of edge grip.”
2014 MotoGP Phillip Island Tire Test Results
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:29.213
2. Cal Crutchlow (Ducati) 1:29.576
3. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:29.730
4. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:29.961
5. Andrea Dovisioso (Ducati) 1:29.965