Catalunyan GP: Michelin preview

MICHELIN MotoGP MEN SHIFT INTO TOP GEAR Michelin begins a hectic run of three back-to-back races at Catalunya with its top riders looking good after winning five of the season's first six races. Michelin men also hold seven of the top eight ...

MICHELIN MotoGP MEN SHIFT INTO TOP GEAR

Michelin begins a hectic run of three back-to-back races at Catalunya with its top riders looking good after winning five of the season's first six races. Michelin men also hold seven of the top eight positions in the current points standings as the 2006 World Championship shifts into top gear.

Two weeks after a scintillating Italian GP, Catalunya promises to be another enthralling weekend, with local hero Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) racing his first premier-class race in front of his Barcelona fans, Valentino Rossi (Camel Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) back on top form after his Mugello victory and joint points- leader Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) still gunning for his first win of the season.

Michelin has won 13 of the 15 premier-class GPs staged at Catalunya, including the last 11 races from 1995. The French tyre brand has an illustrious record at the challenging Barcelona venue, achieving success in partnership with a who's who of modern racing greats, including Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin, Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin and Nastro Azzurro Honda NSR500-Michelin), Mick Doohan (Repsol Honda NSR500- Michelin), Alex Criville (Repsol Honda NSR500-Michelin), Wayne Rainey (Marlboro Yamaha Team Roberts YZR500- Michelin), Kenny Roberts Junior (Telefonica Movistar Suzuki RGV500-Michelin), Carlos Checa (Telefonica Movistar Honda NSR500-Michelin) and Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici-Michelin).

As soon as this year's Catalan GP is finished, MotoGP riders and teams head north for their next championship appointment at Assen in the Netherlands on Saturday June 24 before crossing the Channel for the British GP on Sunday July 2.

MICHELIN IN SPAIN

Spain plays a vital role in Michelin's motorcycling successes. Around 9000 people work for Michelin in the country, and the company's massive Lasarte factory produces the bulk of Michelin's global motorcycle tyre output, though MotoGP tyres are still made at the company's Clermont-Ferrand base in France.

MICHELIN'S RESPONSE TO THE CHALLENGE OF CATALUNYA

"Catalunya will be interesting because we will find out how much the surface has changed since the track was resurfaced last year," says Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. "The new surface was quite aggressive for last June's race, but that will have changed because all surfaces degrade during the first year or so. We did test there during March but it was cold and wet, so what we learned then won't really tell us anything useful for the race because track temperatures will be so different. Anyway, we hope for good weather all weekend because the last four races have been affected by rain, which makes life complicated for everyone involved.

"Catalunya is quite hard on both front and rear tyres. It is tough on rears because there are several long right-handers that put quite a lot of heat into the right side of the tyre. These corners are turns three and four, the slow right-hander in the stadium area and the final corner.

"Our 2006 rear slick should help a lot through these long turns because riders used to get a lot of spin at fairly high lean angles at these points. The bigger contact patch of our latest rear should help riders get on the throttle a bit earlier and use more corner speed without suffering so much spin. But I'm not sure we will be able to beat last year's lap record because the surface may have lost some of the grip it had last June.

"The layout and track surface are quite hard on fronts because there are several downhill corner entries, but we hope our 2006 profile front will be very helpful in this respect because it improves grip and feel into corners and should offer better race-long consistency.

-michelin

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Carlos Checa , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Alex Criville , Kenny Roberts , Wayne Rainey , Mick Doohan , Dani Pedrosa
Teams Repsol Honda Team