French GP: Michelin preview

MICHELIN ALL SET FOR HOME RACE Michelin contests its home Grand Prix at France's legendary motorsport venue with its MotoGP riders in excellent shape. Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) leads the points chase and six of the next...

MICHELIN ALL SET FOR HOME RACE

Michelin contests its home Grand Prix at France's legendary motorsport venue with its MotoGP riders in excellent shape. Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) leads the points chase and six of the next seven riders are on Michelin - Chinese GP winner Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin), Turkish GP winner Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda RC211V-Michelin), Casey Stoner (Honda LCR RC211V-Michelin), Valentino Rossi (Camel Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin), Toni Elias (Fortuna Honda RC211V-Michelin) and Colin Edwards (Camel Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin).

All those riders will be going for Michelin's 14th consecutive French GP victory, the company having won the last 13 French GPs at three different circuits - Le Mans, Le Castellet and Magny Cours. The late Barry Sheene (Texaco Heron Suzuki RG500-Michelin) scored Michelin's first French GP victory at Le Mans in 1976.

MICHELIN'S RESPONSE TO THE CHALLENGE OF LE MANS

Like most MotoGP circuits, Le Mans is constantly evolving, according to safety demands and other factors. Completely resurfaced two years ago, the track has undergone further improvements for 2006, with the ultra-quick turn one and the tricky first chicane modified according to riders' wishes. However, these changes shouldn't affect the overall character of the track which is very stop and go in character, dominated by slow-speed hairpins and average-length straights, putting the emphasis on braking and acceleration performance.

"The grip is quite good, even in the wet, which can be useful at Le Mans at this time of the year!" smilesMichelin motorcycle racing director Nicolas Goubert. "The surface is quite smooth and offers good grip but isn't too demanding on tyres, so we can use quite soft tyres, softer than what we used at the last two races at Shanghai and Istanbul, plus the track temperature shouldn't be too high. The layout is slightly asymmetric, but not enough to have any real effect on the tyres. The biggest challenge is usually the weather, so we will keep a close eye on the forecast.

"Le Mans is a track where traction is quite important because there are four very slow corners, four hairpins, really, so corner-exit traction is vital to allow riders to accelerate as early as possible to get down the straights as fast as they can. Our 2006 rear, which continues the work we've done since the start of MotoGP, creating a bigger footprint and extra edge grip, will help in these slow corners because riders use very high lean angles in slow turns.

"With so many tight, slow corners, braking is also an important factor at Le Mans, so you need good stability from the front. But although there's a lot of braking, it's not as tough on brakes as Motegi because the straights aren't too fast, so we don't need to use a stiffer front carcass. We think our bigger front tyre - which is now preferred by all our riders - will also offer riders a significant advantage. Its bigger contact patch delivers more grip as riders enter turns, helping them brake deeper and turn quicker. The riders say they can feel the bigger tyre through the chicanes, but overall it's definitely an advantage."

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.

-michelin-

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Valentino Rossi , Colin Edwards , Toni Elias , Dani Pedrosa
Teams Repsol Honda Team