MICHELIN BOSS SAYS HIS GOODBYES
The MotoGP paddock gathered last night to commemorate the departure of Michelin's charismatic director of motorsports Pierre Dupasquier. The 68-year-old Frenchman, who has headed the company's racing division for more than three decades, is to be succeeded by Frederic Henry-Biabaud.
The early evening paddock party saw bike racing's great and good pay homage to Dupasquier, a well-known, well-liked and well-respected figure in all areas of motorsport. It was his third leaving party in recent weeks, following special events arranged at last month's season-ending F1 event at Shanghai and during last weekend's Catalunya WRC round. Of course, 2005 has been a special year for Dupasquier and his fellow Michelin engineers, with World Championship victories in motorsport's three main disciplines: MotoGP, WRC and F1.
"Pierre has been a dedicated and charismatic leader," said Edouard Michelin, Michelin chairman and CEO. "But first he is an engineer, always pushing the limits of tyre technology. He's the main reason why Michelin got back into racing in the 70s and he was crucial in developing radial tyres. We'd like to acknowledge his commitment, his sense of value, his team spirit, his sense of fair play and his respect to our racing partners."
"Since Pierre started as motorsport director in 1973, Michelin has won much success - 92 wins in F1, 534 in motorcycle GPs, 174 in WRC and 57 Paris Dakars. In all we've won more than 180 world titles and 1300 world title races. Of course, 2005 has been an exceptional year for us, with world titles in F1, MotoGP and WRC, plus success in the Le Mans 24 hours, Rallye Raid and even the VTT World Championship. So we'd like to thank Pierre, to tell him that we'll never forget what he's done for us and for racing. We wish him the best of luck on the road ahead."
Pierre Dupasquier, who will continue working with Michelin as a consultant, had this to say. "We've been successful in motorcycles because we learned how to listen to the riders. The only thing in our mind was being curious, working out how we were right, how we were wrong and how we could improve for the next race. When we say we'll do something, we do it and we do everything to make sure all our partners and riders have full confidence in us. The product is always the focus of what we do. My thanks to everyone for many great years, now I hand the keys of the house to Frederic!"
Michelin staff were joined at the party by a gaggle of racing luminaries from reigning MotoGP king Valentino Rossi and his peers Colin Edwards, Marco Melandri, Max Biaggi, Alex Barros, Toni Elias and Ruben Xaus to former track stars like King Kenny Roberts, Sito Pons, Luca Cadalora, Carlos Lavado and Fausto Gresini.
"I'm one of the few guys who's won a World Championship without Michelin!" joked Kenny Roberts, who did later win success with the French tyre brand as a team owner.
Henry-Biabaud, who joined Michelin in 1977, ended the evening with these heartfelt words: "When Mick Jagger leaves the Rolling Stones they will no longer be the Stones. No one can replace Pierre but everyone at Michelin looks forward to achieving many more successes, on both two wheels and four wheels."