If anyone was in any doubt about the pivotal role that the spec Bridgestone tires play in MotoGP, this year will have made their significance abundantly clear. The stiff tires offer unbelievable levels of grip, but only once up to temperature, feeling vague and distant while still cold. That presents riders with a paradox: to go fast, the tires have to be warm, but to get heat into the Bridgestones - the front especially - you have to push it hard to make it work.
Championship leader Casey Stoner has proven to be a master at handling this dilemma, seemingly achieving astonishing levels of lean angle and getting his Repsol Honda RC212V turned faster than anyone else on the grid. When asked about the method he uses for getting heat into the tires, Stoner has spoken several times about using the throttle to load the front.
To an untrained observer - and even to people who do have the training - this doesn't seem to make sense. After all, use of the throttle makes the front wheel want to lift, doing the polar opposite of loading the front Bridgestone. To understand exactly what Stoner means by "using the throttle to load the front," we turned to the man who knows exactly what the Australian is doing when he rides the bike: Stoner's long-time crew chief Cristian Gabbarini. Gabbarini, who worked with Stoner at Ducati, and joined HRC when the Australian moved to Honda, took time at Brno to answer our questions. Here's what he had to tell us: