Well-known rubber goods manufacturer Bridgestone has started its fifth season as the official tyre supplier of the MotoGP class with the introduction of a new, more user-friendly hard rubber compound tyre.
The fresh range of softer compound rear tyres are designed specifically for use on CRT bikes, with the vehicles being tested at Sepang over the past weekend.
Such a decision represents the first time since Bridgestone became the official supplier of the MotoGP series that the manufacturer has developed different specifications of tyre for the CRT machines and the 'works' motorcycles.
CRT motorbikes stand out in the prestigious motorsport for the fact that they use production-based engines, while vehicles classed as being 'works' bikes are factory and satellite entries from the likes of Ducati, Honda and Yamaha.
However, Bridgestone is confident that its new user-friendly hard rubber compound tyres have the capability of finally allowing the production-powered motorcycles to create more competition for their full prototype rivals.
Shinji Aoki, the manager of the Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department, acknowledged: "For last season the Motorsport Tyre Development Department focused on improving the safety characteristics of Bridgestone's MotoGP tyres while maintaining high levels of performance.
"Although we were successful in achieving this objective, we've not rested on our laurels and have continued down this development path and as a result we will have a wide selection of slick tyres for riders to evaluate at Sepang."
While the new slicks developed by Bridgestone for the CRT motorbike class feature the same construction as vehicles in the 'works' specification, the former have the opportunity to utilise compounds one step softer than their prototype rivals.
To put this into context, those hopping aboard a 'works' bike at Sepang can be allocated either the medium or hard compound slicks while riding around the circuit's tricky bends and turns. However, competitors handling the CRT motorcycles can go one step softer and opt for soft and medium tyres.
Bridgestone will look at the test sessions at Sepang to garner the reaction of its new range of slicks for the CRT machines, which will involve the manufacturer analysing data from the riders using these new form of tyres.
On top of this, Bridgestone will work closely with Dorna and the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) before making a final decision over whether to make its new slicks available for selection for the upcoming MotoGP season.
Mr Aoki underlined: "This first test in Malaysia is very important to our MotoGP tyre development programme as feedback from this test will steer development for the rest of the pre-season before we finalise our tyre specifications for the year ahead."
Hiroshi Yamada, the manager of the Bridgestone Motorsport Department, echoed Mr Aoki's words, stating that the first group test of the 2013 MotoGP campaign "will certainly be busy".
Looking into how the tyre manufacturer will be playing their part in proceedings, Mr Yamada noted: "Bridgestone has a full testing plan in place for this first test which is a key event in our ongoing tyre development programme.
"We are also looking at ways to revise our tyre marking system to make tyre identification easier for the media and fans, the first step of this process will take place at Sepang next week."
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Posted by Danielle Barge