Portuguese GP: Michelin race report

Michelin men Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V-Michelin) completed a superb weekend for the French tyre brand at Estoril today, enjoying a breathtakingly close duel for victory and ending...

Michelin men Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V-Michelin) completed a superb weekend for the French tyre brand at Estoril today, enjoying a breathtakingly close duel for victory and ending the race first and second, separated by less than two tenths.

Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V-Michelin) finished in fourth place after starting from pole position and setting a new lap record aboard his 800cc RC212V, 0.421 seconds inside the 990cc record. The pace was ultra fast throughout the 28 laps, Rossi's winning time aboard his 800cc M1 smashing the 990cc race record by an impressive 18.8 seconds.

"Today's performance was quite good because the lap times were fast," said Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. "We broke the race record and the lap record and the lap times were very consistent throughout, so it's been a positive day. Vale and Dani enjoyed a fantastic battle, their bikes worked well, the whole package was perfect."

Michelin's MotoGP engineers have been working hard at development in recent weeks, testing a new generation of stiffer construction rear slicks at the rest post-Misano GP tests. But their riders didn't use the new tyres today because they weren't available in compounds to suit the conditions.

"After Misano there wasn't enough time to make a full range of tyres with the new construction, so our riders used the previous type here which worked very well anyway and we can see that we are working in the right direction," Weber added. "We know from our tests at Misano that the new construction rear allows our riders to ride more aggressively, which means faster lap times, so if they had been able to use the new tyres today, maybe the race would've been even better.

"Today did show that the work we've been doing on compounds has given us some improvement. We have also been working to improve warm-up and Dani used a tyre with better warm-up that allowed him to ride fast from the first few laps. Valentino used our new profile front today it gives him good feeling and it's good during braking which suits these bikes because they enter corners very fast."

Rossi, a keen rally fan, dedicated his fourth win of the year to former WRC champion Colin McRae who died yesterday in a helicopter accident. "I also dedicate this win to all the guys who have worked with me through a difficult few races," he said. "This victory is very important and it was an amazing race, a great battle. My Michelins and my Yamaha worked very well, in fact maybe my Michelins had something more than the others. I tried to get away from Dani but I couldn't, I was faster through some parts of the track, he was faster in others."

Pedrosa said: "I pushed very hard and today we were able to keep the same lap time from the start to the finish, which is very important."

Carlos Checa (Honda LCR RC212V-Michelin) also rode an impressive race to finish first non-factory rider in seventh spot.

Credit: michelin

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