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Bucharest: Michelin preview

MICHELIN GOES FOR A HAT TRICK After the first 2 rounds of the season in Zuhai and at Silverstone the FIA GT Championship goes to Bucharest, the Rumanian capital, for the first time in its history. The 3,115 km ...

MICHELIN GOES FOR A HAT TRICK

After the first 2 rounds of the season in Zuhai and at Silverstone the FIA GT Championship goes to Bucharest, the Rumanian capital, for the first time in its history. The 3,115 km circuit is laid out around the Parliament Park. It is a city circuit in the avenues of the town, and is made up essentially of straights linked by 90 corners.

After victories by the Vitaphone Racing Team's Maserati MC12 driven by Biaggi and Salo at Silverstone in GT1, and the Muller-Vilander Ferrari 430 in GT2 Michelin is aiming for a hat trick in these 2 categories, which the Clermont company won in the first 2 rounds.

The circuit

Matthieu Bonardel: the Michelin Rally and Circuits Competitions manager: "It's the first time that we're racing on a city circuit in Europe, so it's a new challenge for Michelin. We studied the circuit and its surface in order to decide what type of tyre to bring. It's basically a square without any high-speed bends, and its main characteristics are acceleration and heavy braking with right-angled corners. It appears to be less bumpy than the American tracks, the asphalt is quite used and we reckon that tyre performance fall-off will be small as there are a lot of straights."

The tyres

Matthieu Bonardel, the Michelin Rally and Circuits Competitions manager: "We've selected options which suppose that the circuit isn't very hard on tyres. Given the limitation on the number of sets imposed by the regulations we haven't been able to test many solutions. We've gone for a medium tyre in our range as well as a softer one. But overall, the rubber will be softer than at Silverstone.

We're bringing a new tyre here that's never raced in Europe before, not even in Zuhai, but one that we've tested in the USA. It's a soft tyre that seems to work well on city circuits, and it's an interesting option that should adapt well to the Bucharest layout.

But as there's not a lot of downforce because everything happens at low speed the tyre may slide, and we could come up against a certain fall-off in grip with the rubber.

With soft rubber it's impossible to cover the whole distance with the same set so a tyre change will be necessary during the race. That's what'll probably happen. The whole game consists in keeping a maximum number of sets for the race.

However, the big question mark for us is the weather. If it rains we'll have to make do with only the two treads for rain tyres imposed by the rules. The problem lies in finding the right compromise. We can be quick when the track's very wet and when it's drying, but it's difficult to be fast in both conditions at once."

-credit: michelin

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