Bridgestone have been there and done that when it comes to making motorcycle tyres. A successful stint in MotoGP saw some stunning victories and then a complete domination as it took over as the control tyre for many years.
That role was taken over by Michelin three years ago now but Bridgestone have been busy applying the lessons they learned in MotoGP to their road tyre range. We caught up with Fabian Francois, Senior Manager for Bridgestone Motorsport Engineering & Product Planning at the Launch of the 2019 S 1000 RR to find out what’s next.
Fabian Francois Interview
Steve Martin: Thanks for speaking to us Fabian, firstly congratulations – you’ve signed a deal with BMW and the Bridgestone collaboration is one of three tyres that will be coming out on the new model S 1000 RR.
Fabian Francois: “Thanks Steve. Exactly, we are supplying tyres fitted on the standard package bike, so the red one, with the 190-rear size, this is where we have a big share in terms of OE fitment, with our Battlax S21 tyre, and then we shared the rest of the OE fitment with Michelin and Metzeler.”
Steve: And today, are we using the exact tyres, are they the actual tyre that will be coming out on this bike? I know you have a new one coming in a few weeks.
Fabian Francois: “The one you’ve ridden this morning, on the first two sessions, were the standard S21s, because as I said we are OE equipped on the 190 size, and you were riding the 200 size this morning. There is a difference of course, because it’s not the same tyre in terms of sizes, so you had different tyres this morning. But this is the one that everyone can buy in the market and the right size for the M package bike you guys are testing.”
Steve: So, the tyre that comes out standard, what is it really suited for. It’s probably not a race track orientated tyre.
Fabian Francois: “No exactly, the S21 is a 90 per cent on-road tyre, for street use. The equivalent is the Metzeler M7 RR or the Pirelli Diablo Rosso III, they are the equivalents in the line-up. So, this was an ideal from BMW to have this kind of tyre as original equipment, because it’s in the first place a road bike, even if it’s meant to be on the track afterwards.”
Steve: What sort of exercise has it been here this week with all these journalists? How many tyres have you been through?
Fabian Francois: “In total we have used a lot, we had some wet journalist groups, so we used around in total 300 tyres, with the mix from street tyres – S21s, our slick tyres and our wet racing tyres.”
Steve: I’ve just put a set of slicks on, what were the ones I used?
Fabian Francois: “Those are the standard commercial slick tyre that everyone can buy in the shop, the Racing Battlax V02, with the latest front construction we introduced last year. It’s called VMS belt construction and you used here in Estoril the soft compound front and rear.”
Steve: I’ve got to say, really good grip from those tyres, how close are these slicks to let’s say the factory Bridgestone MotoGP tyres. Are they heading with similar technology or a long way away?
Fabian Francois: “There are some transfers that have been done from our MotoGP tyre, for example of the rear tyre they use a GP belt construction that was used in MotoGP. Which is a Kevlar extra layer that we put on the rear tyre to keep the deformation as slow as possible.
“As you can imagine with all the forces coming through with the power of the bike, you can start having deformation of the tyre itself. And with this extra ply that you add on top of the tyre, from the construction side, it enables to have a more homogenous contact area on the ground.”
Steve: It appears Bridgestone as a company are having a big push into the market now, whereas when they were with MotoGP they were just concentrated on that.
Fabian Francois: “Looking a bit further, that’s the whole point. We wanted to be closer to the end users for our tyres. MotoGP was a very nice technology enhancement, but at one time we must decide what we want to do with our further line up. In the last three years we introduced 15 new tyres. That’s where you see we could concentrate on what our real end users are needing.”
Steve: What about the future? Is there some sort of long term goal for Bridgestone?
Fabian Francois: “Maybe motorsport activities will still do, for sure now we are fully active in the World Endurance Championship [WEC], which for us is the only world championship left where there is tyre competition. That’s where we want to be. To show we can do it, in any type of category, and that’s what we did last year. We introduced our racing tyres in the world championship endurance in 2017.”
Steve: How close are these standard slick tyres to what the WEC are using.
Fabian Francois: “YART and FCC are using prototype tyres in WEC. What you used today is I would say 90 per cent close.”
Steve: Thanks Fabian.
The next street tyre to arrive from Bridgestone is the successor to the S21, the new S22, and it is arriving in Australia very shortly.
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