French GP: Michelin Le Mans Preview

MICHELIN KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK FOR LE MANS Michelin goes into its home race at Le Mans aiming to continue the good work done during the recent Chinese GP where Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) rode to second place and Dani ...

MICHELIN KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK FOR LE MANS

Michelin goes into its home race at Le Mans aiming to continue the good work done during the recent Chinese GP where Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) rode to second place and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC212V-Michelin) finished fourth.

Rossi was able to ride very aggressively at Shanghai to lead on several occasions. After the race he gave a thumbs up to the latest development work undertaken by Michelin, which is focused on increasing side grip for enhanced cornering performance.

Le Mans is a different circuit from the last two venues on the MotoGP calendar, Istanbul and Shanghai. The layout of the legendary French motorsport venue is more stop-and-go with many slow and medium-speed turns that demand excellent braking, cornering and acceleration performance. As always, Michelin adapts its MotoGP tyres to suit individual riders, bikes and racetracks.

Michelin has a great record in the French Grand Prix, having won the past 14 premier-class races at three different tracks, Le Mans, Le Castellet and Magny-Cours.

MICHELIN AND THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE OF LE MANS

"Le Mans is Michelin's home race but that doesn't really make it any different for us -- each of the 18 races is as important as the others," says Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. "We don't do specific tests at the track and the main complication during the weekend could be the weather, which can be a bit unpredictable at this time of year."

"We got a lot of information from Turkey and China which we are using for Le Mans. We've been reactive to our riders' feedback so things are going better now and we are continuing to work in the same direction.

"The big thing we are now working on is side grip. We saw that Valentino had good side grip at Shanghai because he could really fight with Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici) despite a big difference in top speed. If we can give our riders even more side grip then we give them the possibility to be more aggressive through the corners, which is very useful if there's a big difference in speed between the different machines. The stiffer front and rear casings we have created since Turkey are performing well but we are working on both constructions and compounds because usually you have to work on both together.

"Valentino and some of our other riders will have some different tyres at Le Mans, adapted to their needs and to this track, based on the results of the tests at Istanbul and the race at Shanghai. The direction we have taken with Valentino's tyres also works for some of our riders, though others will use different tyres more suited for their own style at Le Mans.

"Le Mans is mainly a braking and traction circuit, though there are several long corners, like the Musee left-hander, and several long rights, like La Chapelle, the right of the 'S' Bleu, where you need stability to be able to flick the bike out of there and into the next left, and the double right at the end of the lap.

"There are a few straights but they aren't so long as at Shanghai, so I think we should be in good shape to be competitive. We hope we'll be able to get as good side grip as we had in Shanghai because that means our riders will be able to get through the curves fast and then open the throttle early to get a good exit speed.

"You also need a good front at Le Mans to get into the hairpins at a good speed and I'm sure our 16 inch front will be good at Le Mans. All our riders like the 16 and it was obvious at Shanghai that the tyre gave Valentino the confidence to be really aggressive into corners. After the race he said the front was perfect."

MICHELIN IN FRANCE

A French company with a proud history, Michelin is one of France's most renowned names. Established in the late 19th century, Michelin has 18 sites in France, with headquarters in Paris and Clermont-Ferrand, 17 production facilities throughout the country, from Toul in the north-east to Bordeaux in the south-west, and one technology centre at Clermont. The company employs more than 30,000 people in France, roughly a quarter of its worldwide staff.

LE MANS: 4.180km/2.598 miles
Lap record: Valentino Rossi (Camel Yamaha YZR-M1-Michelin),
1m 35.087s,158.255km/h-98.335mph (2006)

Pole position 2006: Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin), 1m33.990s, 160.102km/h-99.483mph

Michelin's 2007 MotoGP riders
Carlos Checa (Honda LCR RC212V-Michelin)
Colin Edwards (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin)
Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC212V-Michelin)
Shinya Nakano (Konica Minolta Honda RC212V-Michelin)
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC212V-Michelin)
Kenny Roberts Junior (Team Roberts KR212V-Michelin)
Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin)

-credit: michelin

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Carlos Checa , Valentino Rossi , Colin Edwards , Shinya Nakano , Kenny Roberts , Casey Stoner , Dani Pedrosa
Teams Repsol Honda Team