Michelin boss Edouard Michelin present for company's 50th consecutive 500 victory Edouard Michelin made his first visit to a motorcycle GP today, coming to Valencia to check on the work of his motorcycle competitions crew, to witness Michelin's...
Michelin boss Edouard Michelin present for company's 50th consecutive 500 victory
Edouard Michelin made his first visit to a motorcycle GP today, coming to Valencia to check on the work of his motorcycle competitions crew, to witness Michelin's 50th consecutive 500 Grand Prix victory and to enjoy a ride on the awesome Yamaha Team twin-seater.
The Michelin Group chairman and CEO was both fascinated and entertained by the buzzing paddock atmosphere and frantic on- track action. "This has been a very memorable day for me motorcycle Grand Prix racing is a fantastic show," he said. "And as for my ride on the twin-seater just too incredible! It's all been a lot of fun, but obviously I didn't only come here to enjoy myself. I came here to remind everyone that we are totally committed to bike racing. Michelin is the most successful tyre manufacturer in two-wheel and four-wheel motorsport, and while our return to F1 this year has generated huge interest, and perhaps even better results than we'd expected, we are still totally dedicated to our two-wheel work."
This year's 500 series has seen a dramatic increase in pace, with lap times a second and more faster than last year, and with several races over 30 seconds quicker. Much of this increased speed comes from Michelin's 16.5in rear tyre, which puts more rubber on the road at maximum lean for extra grip, cooler running and longer life.
"We're very happy to see the lap times come down so much," Michelin adds. "Although racing is a marketing tool, most of all we are passionate engineers, that's why we work so hard to create new technology and new tyres. The improvement in lap and race speeds is down to the riders and the bikes, and we like to think we have also made a good contribution. We never stand still. Bike racing is very different from car racing. In cars, 99 per cent of the drivers will choose the same tyre, but in bikes there are so many different riding styles that riders need many different tyres. That's why we produce such a range.
"I have only one regret that we don't have any competitors. But that will change next year when 990cc four-strokes enter the premier GP class. Of course, we've not been alone in 500s for long, only since last summer, and it's true to say that none of the other tyre manufacturers pulled out, it's just that no one asked them for tyres.
"The new four-stroke GP class is another great technical challenge for us and we relish that. The bikes make more power and they're heavier, so we're looking at building bigger tyres that can handle those demands, especially on faster circuits. We've already had some streetbike riders ask us for 16.5s and I think this shows that the link between road and track is even closer in bikes than it is in cars."
Before racing got underway at Valencia today, Michelin was given the best possible demonstration of what it's like to be a GP racer. He rode two laps aboard a 180 horsepower, 285kmh YZR500 GP bike, behind former 500 winner Randy Mamola.
"After the pre-ride briefing I knew I was in for something very special, because Randy only told me two signals one to ask him to stop, the other to ask him to go slower, there's no signal for `please go faster!'" said Michelin. "I was worried how far we were away from the limit. The forces generated in braking, cornering and acceleration are unbelievable, so when Randy told me that our times were a wet-weather pace, it took my breath away. I'll never, ever forget that ride, and my thanks to everyone who made it possible. You know that the racing world is a big family and Michelin feel we are a part of this family."
Monsieur Michelin, who has worked as one of three managing partners of the Michelin group since 1991, has a wide range of experience within the globally renowned company, one of the world's largest privately owned concerns. Since joining in 1985, the 38- year old has held posts in research, production, manufacturing, marketing and sales. He currently runs the company with his father, Francois Michelin, and René Zingraff. He lives in Clermont-Ferrand, the home of Michelin Group headquarters, with his wife and five children.