Philip Island tyre test – We speak with Vale, Jorge, Cal, Dani & Dovi – The first off-season test at the track since 2008 – Day One
By Mark Bracks

Perfect conditions greeted riders at Phillip Island yesterday, with little breeze that increased slightly in the afternoon to give the riders a head wind down Gardner Straight. Depending on which team’s thermometer, track temperatures varied between 46 and 52-degrees.

Lap records were not on the agenda as Bridgestone had six tyres for teams to test in the afternoon, after the morning was spent getting a setup and trying last year’s race tyre; three with different carcasses and three with different rubber. All riders were instructed to do two runs of six laps each on each tyre they were assigned to test.

There were two Moto2 team in attendance with the Marc VDS team of Mika Kallio and new signing Esteve “Tito” Rabat and the Mapfre team of Jordi Torres and Nic Terol with Dunlop bringing a lolly shop of nine different options

At the end of day one it was 2012 champion, Jorge Lorenzo who led the timesheets  but the surprise of the day was the Ducati of Cal Crutchlow just 0.363 sec behind the Majorcan, followed by Rossi, Pedrosa and Dovizioso, the quintet separated by 0.752 second.

For today’s second day longer runs will be attempted on each of the six compounds of around 15 laps each as air temperatures are expected to rise into the ‘30s with track temps in the 50’s..

Bridgestone will then collate all the data and feedback from the riders to ascertain what are the best compounds before race simulations are conducted.

It is hoped that the race runs will be carried out on the final day of the test on Wednesday but with showers forecast, Bridgestone may bring the simulations forward to this afternoon (Tuesday).

Rossi and Lorenzo both suffered with the bike running wide on the exit of corners during the morning runs, Rossi stating that his biggest concerns were on the exit of turns two, nine and 12 however, both Rossi and Lorenzo were happier with what was provided for them during the afternoon.

Rossi’s troubles with the final turn was visibly demonstrated when he ran onto the outside of the ripple strip and into the gravel during the morning session.

As for Ducati, technically, they should not be at the test as it is for the factory teams but as they only decided at the recent Sepang test to compete in the Open class this year, they had already been booked for the three day tyre test.

The decision already appears to be paying dividends reflected in the competitive times they posted on the first day but we will have to wait until the final day to see how close they really are, but then this is Phillip Island.

In recent times the Ducati’s have struggled with turning into corners at the track so it will be interesting to see where they stand after the three days.

One positive for the team was their top speed with Dovizioso fasted on the day at 334km/h with Crutchlow 333km/h and Rossi 330km/h while Lorenzo and Pedrosa both posted 327km/h speeds through the trap.

Dovi was a late starter not turning up to the track until after 11am as he has been suffering from a virus and fever for the past few days. He didn’t bother climbing on the bike until lunchtime but still put in 60 laps.

Both classes shared the track at the same time with the Moto2 machines sporting a red taillight for the faster MotoGP boys to identify them,  the speeds of the 600cc machines on Gardner Straight nearly 60km/h slower.

New Marc VDS rider Esteve ‘Tito’ Rabat did the most laps of any rider with 100 laps under his belt, he was also the fastest Moto2 rider with an impressive time that eclipses the Moto2 race and qualifying lap records with a 1:32.316.

Behind him was Terol (Mapfre Aspar Suter) then second Marc VDS rider, Mika Kallio and Terol’s team mate Torres.

Kallio’s day was cut short when he crashed at Turn Six (Siberia) just after lunch suffering a banged up hand. He was taken for x-rays but was given the all clear.

Jorge Lorenzo 1st 1:29.213, 327kmh 68 laps

It was good day as I expected. In Sepang I said the tyre was too hard mostly for everyone but especially for Yamaha in Sepang, I hoped to come here and find a different result.

“The tyre from last year we try first, then we try three new ones. The last one was a little bit better than the other ones. The last one was better in general to make a lap time but the warming up was a little bit worse so in the traction area was a little bit softer but we still don’t know what is the best.

“Today we had to do six laps times two, and Tuesday we do 14 laps and the end of the day we are going to do a simulation

“I think we do the rubber (compounds) and Valentino do the construction and tomorrow we switch.

“We just try tyres. We don’t modify the setting or the electronics because if you modify you don’t know if you improve by this or the tyres.

Cal Crutchlow 2nd, 1:29.576  333kmh 68 laps

It’s different lapping here on a Ducati, but obviously I have a reference point form what I was riding last year but the Ducati is going good here, a lot better than what it was in Sepang and I seem to be making inroads with what we have. We made some small setting changes with the bike and seems to be getting better every time we go out.

“Today was better than Malaysia but it’s a completely different track, not many hard braking points and that was where I was losing in Malaysia. The grip is a lot better than Malaysia but the Ducati feels good, it feels a lot better than what I expected after the last test so we can take some positives from that.

“We used the tyre we used in the race and I have absolutely no problem with that tyre. It felt quite good. The track this morning was a little low with grip but I was happy enough then we stated to make some changes with the bike over lunchtime then we started to test the new tyres. I think two of the guys had a different plan to us. 

“We had the construction difference and the other guys had the rubber difference and trust me the construction difference is a lot worse, I nearly went over the bars 12 times in five laps. We can give Bridgestone that information and tell them we also had it backed up by the rider that was testing the construction as well that was worse.

“Me and Valentino seemed to have the same program [from Bridgestone]. I don’t know about Dani as he was only one rider. Me and Valentino tested the same tyre and we both scrapped that tyre because it was too bad to put in for the second stint. They were bad for grip, for me, anyway. I saw Valentino out on track and he seemed to be exactly the same as me

“We tested three new tyres and the normal race tyre and we clarified straight away that the normal race tyre was a lot better. It was the one that lasted most, it was the one that was most consistent and it we did 27 laps on it this morning and I did a 30.3 on the last lap so I had no problem with that.

“We went back to the normal standard tyre again and it felt better. These are the things that happen when you are testing tyres; you have some problems but in the end we went not too bad with the tyre we used in the race. 

“My riding style I like to keep the corner in an arc a lot more like Lorenzo so the side grip is very, very important. With the tyre I tested today he [Dovi] was testing the rubber and I was testing the construction. Maybe tomorrow everything is going to swap around.

“I don’t know if it is a different track condition, different temperature and you think it would be worse in a hotter temperature. I don’t really understand why, I think because the track is a few months older it’s not working too bad. Our bike seems to be working a bit better at this circuit. It still does the same thing but it does it less as in I have a little less spinning because I have a little more grip and I have a little less wheelie because the acceleration is not so hard.

“The turning is still a weak point of the bike but the braking and the tipping in with the bike is a lot better, a lot better than last year’s bike we can see where we are getting quite a lot of time compared to last year’s bike a  but carrying the angle and getting the bike to turn is still quite difficult. When you are going into the last corner and it is so long the corner speed tends to get  little bit less every lap so as the tyre goes off it becomes a little bit more difficult to ride but not as much as Malaysia. 

“I’m pleased to be a bit closer to the front than what I was.

Valentino Rossi 3rd 1: 29.730 330 kmh 85 laps

The surface with a little bit more time is less aggressive but it is better. In October we had a lot of problems because the tarmac was brand new. Apart for that it was a good day. I am very happy. It is very good weather and I enjoy a lot so always a great pleasure here in Phillip Island. I am quite fast. I am happy I am quiet fast about my pace my rythym. We work on bike and found something good we work for Bridgestone, me and Jorge we make two different work so tomorrow will be the opposite. So I found some not so bad so it was a positive day

“Today I tested the carcass setting and tomorrow we will have the compound.

“We divide the work between me and Jorge . Not about performance, about the life of the tyre so is a good something good something bad. Already we have some good way to follow. I know already that Jorge is happy about the other group of tyres and we try tomorrow.

“For me the target is to try to have the same performance with more life. If we are able to acheive this result I am  very happy. It is not possible I think to have a tyre that is faster and that stay longer so the good thing is if Bridgestone work in the right way is that we have a tyre can resist for all the race without lose a lot of edge grip and I already try something not so bad.

“It looks like the surface has five months more and is already less aggressive than in October so means it is easy for the tyre and this is good news. Usually asphalt is very very aggressive when brand new and lose extra grip and after is quite constant for six seven maybe five years. If the surface do this, it will be more easy for the tyre.

“I did my best time with standard tyre. I know the riders that use the other tyres are a little bit faster but we will try tomorrow.

“I am happy because in Sepang last year in the race I was not so far from Jorge, I was in front in qualifying and I arrive behind him in the race by about two seconds. Here he won and he give me 10 seconds in the race so this track is more important to understand if I am faster than last year and the first day is good because I am closer.”

Dani Pedrosa 4th, 1:29.961 327kmh 66 laps

Only real difference with Phillip Island is the track is so special for the left hand side of the tyres and it is so severe with this power so that is why we are here and hopefully we can take some good information. We will see after three days. I know they can make improvement but I don’t know if we or even Moto2 can last for the full race distance.

“In the morning we were just lapping getting some rythym and then in the afternoon after lunch I started tyre test which for me today was compound; same construction just the compound. I went through the steps a different direction from others so then Bridgestone can have full information. Obviously I have different feeling because its tyre but they have to check the tyres on the insides and tomorrow we have the answers of which one likes more in general for the riders 

“On performance I think the race tyres was performing better, but the others are more into the safety side but one of the tyres I tried was more performing than the others so I think it was matching to some other rider.

“They are different for endurance and they are different make not to have this chunk problem in the rubber.

“I think my fastest lap was done on the race tyre because it was before lunch.

Andrea Dovizioso 5th, 1:29.965 334 kmh 60 laps

Sunday night I had a fever but not so bad. My feeling with my body is not the best. I had the fever, the last three days I don’t feel very well and last night was the worst. I didn’t expect to make the test today but I was able to do so.

“I am happy because we make the job we have to do with Bridgestone so we are happy about that. Condition was really perfect to try something on the setup and the feeling on the bike is better than the race it is a little easier because there is less wind but anyway it is too early but is interesting to what we try with Bridgestone. My feeling with the tyre they bring is good but we still don’t know the life but we have to do more testing in the next few days but it is a good day. 

“The characteristic on this track is the entry more than the exit. When you lose the entry it is difficult to keep the lap time. The three tyres I try today are working very well. We make two runs on every tyre for six laps so 12 laps was able to keep same lap time for 12 laps. Sure, 12 laps is not race but sure is better than the race we made last year 

“The schedule is we try three tyres the difference was not big about the feeling and the lap time but the consistency was a little bit more so it is interesting. I can’t say it is the right tyre for the race because condition is different and we didn’t make too many laps. 

“I was able to keep the same lap time for 12 laps and this is really good. It is really good for the tyre but also my feeling for the bike because it is very difficult here to keep the same lap time. I struggle all my time to do that. Sure it is very good condition to do that but is a completely different track to Malaysia but I am more comfortable than the past with Ducati on this track. Sure we have to work and sure we are not fast enough but I don’t know the other competitors how they work and what they try but th elapt time is very similar apart frm the last ecit 

“I don’t know what they try they put a new tyre in to make the lap time, like I see Crutchlow but that is not the main point but the pace during the day was very similar and I am also impressed with that.

“Not the same as Malaysia, but it is logical. Where we improve the bike in Malaysia is logical not to have all the benefit here because the characteristic of this track is long corner and you need turning, so is easier to ride the bike the feeling with the bike is good, better than before but the turning is there so is difficult to be faster to drop the lap time to save the tyre I mean it is always the same story. But anyway,  if I compare the lap time to the other rider we are not in the same situation as Malaysia but not to far from the first day. I don’t know the next day how we will be but is what we expected. Can be really different because every corner is the same here so if you are not able to turn the bike quickly it is very difficult.

“We don’t have the open tyre here. We have just testing tyre from Brigestone for factory bike. But I don’t think Bridgestone have a clear idea which kind of tyre they will bring here for the race for everybody so which tyre will be for factory or open I think nobody knows. But it is not important for us we can test for half day for set up of bike and for half day for setup of tyre so its ok. In this weather you can make a lot of work.”

Valentino Rossi
Valentino Rossi
Bridgestone tyres from Monday. The tape on the tyres is wear Bridgestone technicians have taken samples for analysis.
Bridgestone tyres from Monday. The tape on the tyres is where Bridgestone technicians have taken samples for analysis.