Spanish GP: Michelin preview

MICHELIN ALL SET FOR FASTEST-EVER MotoGP SEASON The 2006 MotoGP World Championship will be a season to remember - the last year of 990cc MotoGP bikes before power outputs are reduced by a switch to 800cc engines. During the 17-race...

MICHELIN ALL SET FOR FASTEST-EVER MotoGP SEASON

The 2006 MotoGP World Championship will be a season to remember - the last year of 990cc MotoGP bikes before power outputs are reduced by a switch to 800cc engines. During the 17-race campaign riders will use the most powerful engines ever used in bike racing, so tyres will be more important than ever. During this watershed season Michelin is determined to maintain its dominance, aiming for its 15th successive premier-class crown. And this weekend the French tyre brand goes for an unprecedented 19th consecutive victory at Jerez.

MICHELIN'S RESPONSE TO THE CHALLENGE OF JEREZ

The last MotoGP race may have taken place at Valencia last November, but Michelin's MotoGP experts have been working throughout the winter to create tyres that will maintain the company's edge in the world's most technically challenging motorcycle sport. Michelin has tested with its partners in Australia, the Far East and Europe, developing tyres for the latest breed of 250 horsepower MotoGP bikes.

"This will be a very interesting and important season," says Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. "From the start of 2007 MotoGP bikes will be 800cc, so the engines may not be as powerful for the next two or three season. This means that tyres will be particularly important this year, especially since we can expect fierce competition from our two rivals.

"Also, 2006 is a very special year for the entire Michelin race department. Not only are we the reigning champions in MotoGP, Formula One, WRC and Le Mans 24 hours, but this is our last season in F1, so we want to push hard to make sure we leave F1 on a high, without affecting our efforts in the other categories. We want to repeat what we achieved in 2005, which means putting a lot of pressure on ourselves, and we also want to make this a successful first year for our new motorsport director Frederic Henry-Biabaud.

"During the winter we focused on the rear tyre to give riders more edge grip and traction for more mid-corner and acceleration performance. Our 2006 rear features a different construction to provide a larger footprint during cornering. We have also done some work on front construction, to give our new riders like Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) and Casey Stoner (LCR Honda RC211V-Michelin) more confidence going into the corners.

"The final winter tests told us that the Jerez surface has definitely changed since last year's GP. It's not as aggressive as before and it doesn't offer as much grip, so we think it will be very difficult to improve on last year's race time at the GP. Whenever you go to a track you may find that track conditions have changed, not only according to the weather but also according to the character of the asphalt."

World Champion Valentino Rossi (Camel Yamaha Team YZR-M1- Michelin) has won four of the last five Spanish MotoGP events. "Jerez has a lot of fast, long turns which give the tyres a lot of g because you ride through them at very high lean angles, so you need good rear-tyre casing stability," he says. "Also there's a lot of heavy braking, so the front construction needs to handle some serious pressure."

MICHELIN IN SPAIN

Spain plays a vital role in Michelin's motorcycling successes. Around 9000 people work for Michelin in the country, and the company's massive Lasarte factory produces the bulk of Michelin's global motorcycle tyre output, though MotoGP tyres are still made at the company's Clermont-Ferrand base.

-michelin-

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Casey Stoner , Dani Pedrosa