Portuguese GP: Michelin preview

ESTORIL: SLOW BUT NEVER EASY Michelin men approach Estoril with confidence after Jerez test Spanish GP winner Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V-Michelin) goes into round three of the 2008 MotoGP series leading the points chase ahead of fellow...

ESTORIL: SLOW BUT NEVER EASY

Michelin men approach Estoril with confidence after Jerez test

Spanish GP winner Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V-Michelin) goes into round three of the 2008 MotoGP series leading the points chase ahead of fellow Michelin man Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin). The two Spaniards were the star performers at the first two races which proved the performance of Michelin's latest MotoGP tyres. Michelin riders have so far scored one victory and four podiums and they fill five of the top seven championship positions, with Andrea Dovizioso (JiR Team Scot Honda RC212V-Michelin) in fifth, followed by James Toseland (Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin) and Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V-Michelin).

Race records tumbled at both Losail and Jerez, so the pace is expected to be just as red hot at Estoril, MotoGP's slowest circuit with an average lap speed of just 154.423km/h-95.954mph. But slow doesn't mean easy; the Estoril layout is complex and asymmetric, while the surface is bumpy and not too grippy. Michelin has an excellent record at the Portuguese venue, having won all eight premier-class races staged at the track since 2000.

MICHELIN & THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE OF ESTORIL

"The Estoril tarmac is old, it degrades each year and there are different patches of tarmac around the circuit," says Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. "The track is also very asymmetric, with the right side of the tyres getting a lot of stress, especially through the very long final corner, while the left side of the tyre runs much cooler because there are so few left-handers. The other big concern is the weather. At this time of year it could be hot or cold, and with the Atlantic so close there is always the chance of rain, which makes it much more difficult to properly prepare for the race."

A two-day test session at Jerez following the Spanish GP allowed Michelin and its partners to work on further developments for upcoming races. "During the test we tried some small adjustments to our rear tyres in order to further improve traction and stability," adds Weber. "We had our different riders trying the same tyres to see how they would behave from one rider to another. We confirmed some promising new constructions and compounds, and we got some good data to help the performance of tyres in the early laps of races. Our riders had already confirmed our latest tyres offered good warm-up performance in night at Losail and in the morning sessions at Jerez.

"We did a lot of work with Dani on our wider profile front tyre, which he raced for the first time at Jerez. All our other riders started the season on this tyre, which offers better corner-entry performance, except Dani, whose preseason injury prevented him from fully testing it. After the Jerez race Dani tested a range of different constructions and compounds in this profile and he is now fully adapted to this tyre, which is great.

"We also did some interesting work with Jorge. We tested several rear tyres to help us better understand his needs and learn more about his sensitivity to different tyres. The work was very successful and he was very fast with a range of different rears.

"All our riders were fast at Jerez and that makes us happy. Nicky is going well now, because the factory Honda RCVs seem to have a very good balance with the tyres. Our other rookies James and Andrea also proved they are very fast and aggressive, while both Colin (Edwards, Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin) and Randy de Puniet, Honda LCR RC212V-Michelin) also showed good potential, so it was a shame they crashed out of the race.

"The first two races proved that the level of the championship is incredibly high, with extremely fast lap times. It's going to be a very tough year for everyone because it's a long championship and to be in with a chance of winning the title you have to be both very fast and very consistent, which is never easy."

ESTORIL TRACK FACTS

Lap record: Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC212V-Michelin), 1m 37.493s (154.423km/h-95.954mph)

Pole position 2007: Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC212V-Michelin), 1m 36.301s

-credit: michelin

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , James Toseland , Randy de Puniet , Andrea Dovizioso , Jorge Lorenzo , Dani Pedrosa
Teams Repsol Honda Team