One of the tasks during last week’s MotoGP test in Malaysia was to sample the new tires supplied by Bridgestone ahead of the 2014 season. Antonio Jimenez, crew chief to GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, explains the challenge.
Bautista may have ended proceedings 11th on the timesheet, but rapid lap times were not everything as numerous experiments went on behind the scenes.
“On the first day of testing, after becoming acquainted with the new RC213V, we started working on Showa suspension’s setup starting from the good base reached at the end of last season,” Jimenez said.
“On the second day, the situation became more complicated because we started using the new Bridgestone rear tire for the 2014 season; that is actually quite different from the tires used throughout 2013. The new tire has a more rigid structure, designed to withstand the severe strain of a MotoGP and also amid high temperatures.
“Unfortunately, in this first test of the year we had — as all other riders had — only three new rear tires available. We had to start from scratch in finding the best setting to exploit the potential of these tires and for us this important work requires a certain time, because — being the only ones to use Showa suspension — we can’t count on other references. However, in the next scheduled test we will use only 2014 spec tires, so we will focus on this aspect and I am convinced that we can do a good job.”
Last year, a podium finish eluded Bautista, who the season before had managed to finish on the rostrum in both the San Marino and Japanese Grands Prix. However, Jimenez is confident that his rider can enjoy a positive upcoming campaign.
“We have seen very good lap times, obtained in the morning when the track was in the best condition,” the crew chief continued. “In this case we have not been really fast, but we are satisfied.
“Alvaro has been fast with used tires and this is important for the race distance. Obviously, we need to improve for qualifying, but we have time to do it.”
Once again this year, Fausto Gresini’s team is running a split program. With Bautista riding a Factory Option Honda RC213V, new teammate Scott Redding is piloting a Honda RCV1000R under the new Open regulations.