MICHELIN MEN READY FOR 20th ANNIVERSARY DONINGTON GP Donington Park this year celebrates 20 years as home to the British motorcycle GP and Michelin riders are aiming to continue their dominance of the event. Michelin has won all but four of the...
MICHELIN MEN READY FOR 20th ANNIVERSARY DONINGTON GP
Donington Park this year celebrates 20 years as home to the British motorcycle GP and Michelin riders are aiming to continue their dominance of the event. Michelin has won all but four of the premier-class races held at the track since 1987, including a clean sweep of the last seven British GPs. Michelin's nine riders are also ruling this year's MotoGP series, winning seven of the first eight races and holding nine of the first 11 positions in the current points standings.
Winner of last Saturday's Dutch TT, Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) leads the series ahead of Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin), with Valentino Rossi (Camel Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) fourth and Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda RC211V-Michelin) fifth.
Donington hasn't always been Britain's bike GP venue. The Isle of Man hosted the country's world round from 1949 (when the Island hosted the first-ever premier-class GP) to 1976, Silverstone taking over from 1977 to 1986. Donington is an unusual circuit. While football is a game of two halves, the Midlands venue is a racetrack of two halves, with two very different sections: fast and open from Redgate to Coppice, slow and tight from Foggy's Esses to Goddard Hairpin. It is the job of riders, engineers and tyre technicians to use a riding style, bike set-up and tyre choice that can cope with the different demands of both sections.
MICHELIN'S RESPONSE TO THE CHALLENGE OF DONINGTON PARK
"We know Donington quite well, because even though we never really test there, we've been racing there for a long time," says Michelin motorcycle racing director Nicolas Goubert. "Years ago it used to be quite tricky because it was very slippery, but it's much better since they resurfaced it in 2004. The surface is more grippy, so it's easier to find compounds that are good for the entire track.
"It is a very varied track that contrasts flowing corners with slow hairpins, which makes it quite special. >From a tyre point of view, that means you need a bit of everything - good warm-up, good traction and good edge grip. But the layout isn't particularly tough because there are no really long corners, so it doesn't put a lot of heat into the tyres. Our biggest priority is creating good traction out of the hairpins, so the riders can get on the throttle early.
"This run of three-back-to-back races makes things tough for everyone. Although we can make new tyres from one weekend to the next, we can't make everything we might like to make when we've got several back-to-back races. Let's say we had good results with a new construction tyre at Assen, we wouldn't have time to make that construction in a full variety of compounds for Donington.
"We usually bring about 1000 tyres to each race for our nine riders. When we have races on successive weekends, some tyres come from the previous race, usually wets and fronts, and some come direct from the factory, usually the rears, which are designed for that particular track. So for this race more than a third of our tyres have been brought from Assen, while the rest have come from Clermont-Ferrand."