MICHELIN MEN KEEP MOVING FORWARD
Six of Michelin's 2008 MotoGP riders attended the penultimate test session of 2007 at Sepang, ending the three-day outing happy with latest developments from Michelin and confident of further improvements in the run-up to the 2008 World Championship which commences in Qatar on March 9.
Michelin man Nicky Hayden (Repsol HondaTeam RC212V-Michelin) ended the session fastest, using qualifying tyres on the final day. Hayden's best lap was a stunner -- almost 1.3 seconds inside the pole position pace set by team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC212V-Michelin) at October's Malaysian GP. Colin Edwards (Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin) also lapped inside Pedrosa's pole time using qualifying tyres, but even more impressively was inside the lap record on race tyres.
Michelin also used the session to get to know four new Michelin MotoGP riders: Andrea Dovizioso (JiR Team Scot Honda RC212V-Michelin), Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin), Randy de Puniet (Honda LCR RC212V-Michelin) and James Toseland (Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin).
"We're happy with the three days and it was great to do a lot of work with our new riders," said Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. "The data and information we gained here will be very important in helping us work towards the first tests of 2008 here in January. Our new riders all made excellent progress with their lap times and proved that they are extremely motivated.
"We had new tyres to test during this session, plus we also wanted to try the same tyre types that worked so well at Valencia last month at a different racetrack. At the moment the tyres we are working on are logical developments of our latest tyres, though we did try out some new compounds that worked well. Nicky also tested a new 16-inch rear, though he focused mostly on our 16.5."
Hayden was happy with his second outing on Honda's 2008 RCV. "We've been working through a lot of stuff on the new bike -- engine mapping, electronics and tyres -- and I'm pleased because we've been made constant improvements," said the 2006 World Champion.
MotoGP newcomer Dovizioso impressed with his speed, the 2007 250 runner-up setting the fourth fastest lap of the three days. "Andrea did an excellent job," added Weber. "He focused on the front tyre and he gives very good feedback. It was also good to work with Jorge, though he was working more on bike set-up than tyre testing during these tests. Randy did a great job, he really likes his new bike and tyres and shows great potential. James worked very well in his first ride on a MotoGP bike, especially considering he was also riding on a new track and with new tyres."
2006 and 2007 World Champion Lorenzo was seventh, focusing on machine set-up. Former Kawasaki MotoGP rider de Puniet led the first day and ended up ninth, after injuring a thumb in a fall on the final day. "This has been a very positive test I have done a lot of tyre evaluation with Michelin, with good step forward on the rear, we tried some different compound front tyres. The crash was strange, I had the same braking and speed as the lap before, when I lost the front-end. I rode again in the afternoon but did not use a qualifier, just the latest Michelin race tyres. After just five days with Honda LCR and Michelin I'm happy with move to the LCR team and know we can be faster when we get the 2008 model Honda RC212V". said Randy.
Double World Superbike champion Toseland was tenth, improving his times throughout the three days.
Edwards also came away impressed. "Michelin have been working really hard, they've got some new ideas which should keep us moving in the right direction," commented the former World Superbike champion.
Off-season testing continues at Jerez, Spain, on November 27/28/29. MotoGP then begins its traditional six-week mid-winter recess, with testing resuming at Sepang on January 22/23/24 2008.