James Ellison searching for Bridgestone confidence
James Ellison believes learning to get maximum performance out of Bridgestone’s new tyres will be his biggest challenge in the 2012 MotoGP world championship.
The Paul Bird Motorsport rider is gradually getting more confident with the Bridgestone tyres, which have been notoriously difficult to adapt to because of their hard construction.
James Toseland, Ben Spies and Cal Crutchlow all found it hard to adjust to the Japanese rubber, which have been criticised in the past for not getting up to optimum working temperature quickly enough.
Bridgestone has introduced new front and rear tyres with a softer construction for 2012 to improve initial warm-up performance.
But Ellison is still learning how understand their full potential.
The Cumbrian finished last weekend’s Jerez test in 20th position with a best time of 1.42.437 on the new Aprilia ART machine.
Ellison, who was plagued by a chatter issue throughout the Jerez test, told MCN: “The tyres we used at the first test in Jerez were quite soft and I was quite impressed with them because I had a lot of grip. But they were the softest one that will be used and they didn’t even bring that to the second test last weekend.
“They brought a harder one which is a medium and then they went to an even harder one and everyone went quicker on them, so they do work when the temperature is right.
“But with the pace I’m at the minute I couldn’t really get the optimum temperature out of it and that’s a confidence thing. If I had pushed it I probably could have done but because I don’t know the tyres yet they don’t seem predictable and I need more miles to figure them out.
“We knew getting used to the tyres was going to be the biggest problem. We’re doing all that while trying to get comfortable on the bike and it is a big learning process.”
Elaborating on the specific challenge of adjusting to the Bridgestone tyres, the 31-year-old added: “It is keeping the heat in them. You go out and you’ve got to go fairly quick in the first lap and a half and they move around but not much.
“Coming out of a corner I don’t mind it spinning but going into corners when the rear steps out, that’s how I crashed in the Aragon test pushing that bit too hard too early.
“It is a confidence thing more than anything but it is convincing my brain to stop braking, lean it over and open the gas. The challenge is pushing hard to get the heat into them.”
Ellison said learning to get the best out of the Bridgestone tyres was also making the task of setting up the new Aprilia ART machine a difficult one.
He added: “The bike is pretty cool to be honest but it is a catch-22 situation because you need to push hard to do the lap times to learn about the bike, but you can only push if you have confidence in the tyres.”
For seven pages of news from the Jerez test, see the March 28 issue of MCN.