MICHELIN ENCOURAGED BY POSITIVE TESTS Estoril is the slowest MotoGP track on the calendar -- with a lap record of just 153.7km/h-95.5mph -- but it's by no means an easy circuit for tyre manufacturers. Michelin goes into the Portuguese Grand Prix...
MICHELIN ENCOURAGED BY POSITIVE TESTS
Estoril is the slowest MotoGP track on the calendar -- with a lap record of just 153.7km/h-95.5mph -- but it's by no means an easy circuit for tyre manufacturers. Michelin goes into the Portuguese Grand Prix aiming to fight back from a run of difficult races. Post-race tests at Misano earlier this month were encouraging, Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) commenting that "Michelin has done a good job recently, we found some very interesting things with the new tyres we tried, the tests were definitely much more positive than the tests we did at Brno."
Rossi's positive feedback followed a luckless Misano GP that had Michelin's fastest three qualifiers out of the running in the first few laps -- Rossi suffering mechanical problems and Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC212V-Michelin) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC212V-Michelin) the innocent victims of a first-lap incident. Nevertheless, Rossi and Pedrosa still hold second and third places in the World Championship points standings, while Hayden has climbed the points ladder with three podiums from the four races preceding Misano.
MICHELIN AND THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE OF ESTORIL
"The tests at Misano went quite well, we were quite happy with the lap times, we learned a lot and Yamaha and Honda worked well with us," says Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. "The tests helped us find some interesting directions for development and also allowed us to get a lot more information about Misano. We hadn't been there before the GP, and with our three fastest riders out of luck in the race, it was extremely useful for us to get some more track time.
"During the tests we continued our work on the new construction tyres we first used during the post-Czech GP tests at Brno. Four of our riders raced the new construction at Misano, including Valentino. Our main focus at the tests was obtaining more data on compounds with the new construction rear which is designed to improve edge grip and traction. The construction is a bit stiffer than before, so while most of our riders already like the tyre, some still prefer the softer construction; as always it comes down to riding style and machine character. Choice of construction also depends on the circuit -- I think the stiffer construction should work well at Estoril, though maybe the softer construction will be better at somewhere like Motegi where riders don't spend so much time at maximum lean.
"Two of our riders raced with the new profile front at Misano and most of them tested the tyre the day after the race. We were working with compounds again, and the Yamaha guys especially appreciated the new tyre. We expect three or four riders will use this tyre at Estoril -- Carlos (Checa, Honda LCR RC212V-Michelin) wasn't sure after the tests, he has still to decide which profile he prefers.
"Estoril is going to be really different from Misano. The surface isn't in very good condition, it's bumpy and the grip level will be much lower, although I believe they have resurfaced a couple of parts of the track. It is quite an asymmetric circuit with a lot of right-handers and not so many lefts, so we have to work to make sure our riders have the best grip through both the rights and the lefts. The right side of the tyre has to work quite hard at Estoril, especially though the final right-hander which is very, very long, with riders using a lot of throttle and spending a lot of time at maximum lean."
TRACK DATA: 4.182km
Lap record: Kenny Roberts Junior (Team Roberts KR211V-Michelin), 1m 37.914s, 153.759km/h-95.541mph
Pole position 2006: Valentino Rossi (Camel Yamaha YZRT-M1-Michelin), 1m 36.200s