MICHELIN TACKLES TROPICAL CHALLENGE Michelin's MotoGP crew swaps the cool, breeziness of Phillip Island for the sweltering tropical heat of Sepang for the penultimate race of the 2008 MotoGP World Championship. Michelin performed well at...
MICHELIN TACKLES TROPICAL CHALLENGE
Michelin's MotoGP crew swaps the cool, breeziness of Phillip Island for the sweltering tropical heat of Sepang for the penultimate race of the 2008 MotoGP World Championship.
Michelin performed well at Phillip Island, with Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V-Michelin) scoring a superb podium result and all six Michelin men inside the top nine finishers. Hayden is currently sixth overall in the points standings, just behind fellow Michelin riders Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) and Andrea Dovizioso (JiR Team Scot Honda RC212V-Michelin) and just in front of Colin Edwards (Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin).
Sepang is one of the most challenging events of the MotoGP season, with riders, motorcycles and tyres pushed to the limit by the intense weather conditions, with temperatures sometimes edging towards 55 degrees and humidity at up to 80 per cent. The circuit also demands much from riders and their machinery, with a com bination of wide, sweeping corners and heavy braking. Sepang's testing layout makes it MotoGP's most popular off-season test venue, with some teams visiting the track several times during the sport's winter season.
"After Phillip Island, which is the toughest circuit for tyres, Sepang is another big challenge for the tyre companies," says Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. "But conditions are very different from those we experience in Australia, with much higher ambient and track temperatures. At Phillip Island we had to contend with a track temperature between 22 and 35 degrees; at Sepang it can be anything between 40 and 55 degrees, which makes it very tough for the tyres. The layout of the Sepang circuit puts less stress into the tyres than Phillip Island, which puts so much heat into the tyres. In Malaysia it is the heat that demands so much from the tyres.
"We expect the asphalt to be less demanding than it was last year, when the whole trac k had been resurfaced, because Sepang is used a lot for racing, testing and other activities. Riders use similar rear tyre constructions as they used at Phillip Island, with different compounds adapted to suit these special conditions. Edge grip and traction are very important at Sepang, with quite a few long corners. The tyres need to provide consistent performance through these corners during the race.
"The front tyre definitely gets more stress at Sepang than it does at Phillip Island, with a lot of heavy braking from high speeds, so riders need a stiffer construction front tyre for this race, something like what they use at Motegi and Shanghai, which also feature lots of very heavy braking."