The 4.8km circuit is characterized by numerous fast, long-radius corners that are expected to result in one of the highest average speeds of the year. High speeds, hard braking zones and high camber angles of some corners results in this circuit being one of the more demanding for tires.
The Rio Hondo circuit has nine right-hand corners compared to just five left-handers. However, the left-hand corners tend to be more severe in nature than the right-handers and in particular corners such as turn six and eleven generate high tire temperatures, so the overall loads placed on the left and right shoulders of the tires are similar. Rear tire allocation will be symmetric.
The overall severity of the track means the rear tire allocation features rubber compounds from the harder end of the scale. Rear slick tire options for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders are the medium and hard compound rear slick, while the Ducati and open-class riders have access to the soft and medium compound rear slicks.
As the circuit is a new addition to MotoGP™, Bridgestone’s dataset for the track is limited to that gathered in a test there last year featuring riders Stefan Bradl, Cal Crutchlow and Alvaro Bautista.
As a result, a special front slick tire allocation will be offered for this weekend’s GP to ensure riders have enough options to deal with the potentially variable track conditions. The riders will be able to choose from three front slick options – the soft, medium and hard compound front slicks – instead of the usual two front options offered per race weekend.
Hiroshi Yamada, Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department, commented, “From a racing perspective, none of the factory teams tested at this circuit last year so it will be interesting to see which riders are able to adapt themselves to the demands of this very fast circuit. This weekend will be a busy one for our engineers as they will be tasked with helping the teams get the best out of the tires at this new circuit.”
His colleague Shinji Aoki, Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tire Development Division, added, “Our test at the circuit last year shows it is one of the harshest circuits on the calendar for tires. The circuit is interesting in that although there are nine right-handed corners compared to five left-handed corners, the left shoulder of the tire experiences higher temperatures than the right shoulder, due to the left-handers generally being faster, more demanding corners. As we have limited data for this track, we have decided to have a special allocation for the front tires this weekend to ensure maximum safety for the riders.”
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