MICHELIN MEN AIM TO TURN RECORD-BREAKING TESTING PACE INTO JEREZ VICTORY Michelin riders will be out to score their first victory of the year at Jerez, the second race of MotoGP's first 800cc season. In Qatar two weeks ago former World Champion...
MICHELIN MEN AIM TO TURN RECORD-BREAKING TESTING PACE INTO JEREZ VICTORY
Michelin riders will be out to score their first victory of the year at Jerez, the second race of MotoGP's first 800cc season. In Qatar two weeks ago former World Champion Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) finished a close second, while Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC212V-Michelin) won a fierce duel for third place.
The two Michelin men have high hopes of success on March 25 because they dominated last month's preseason Jerez tests, lap record holder Rossi riding the fastest-ever lap of the Andalucian circuit, a fraction ahead of local hero Pedrosa. Colin Edwards (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) and reigning World Champion Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC212V-Michelin) completed the French tyre brand's domination of the event with third and fourth fastest lap times.
Michelin has won all but one of the 20 premier-class races held at Jerez since the track hosted its first GP in 1987, including the fastest-ever Jerez race in 2005. The company was beaten at the circuit for the first time last year and is determined to avenge that defeat this weekend -- just as it returned to its winning ways at Sepang last September after suffering a rare defeat at the Malaysian track in 2005.
MICHELIN & THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE OF JEREZ
"Jerez is quite interesting from a layout point of view," says Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. "It's quite symmetrical but you need a lot of traction from the rear tyre and good handling from the front. We tested there only last month which is always a help.
"The tarmac is quite old [Jerez was last resurfaced during the winter of 2001/2002] and it gets used a lot for F1 testing which has a big effect on the surface. The tarmac changed a lot from 2005 to last year and has changed some more since then; it's quite worn now so it isn't so aggressive on tyres.
"Riders need a lot of traction exiting all the corners, and good handling from the front is also very important. It's one of the tracks we visited twice during the winter and we were able to see how our new 16 front really helped our riders. We also saw a big improvement in the tyre from the November tests to the Jerez session. The 16 offers several positives -- it allows riders to go deeper into corners on the brakes, it gives better handling, allowing riders to flick into turns quicker, and it also offers more grip.
"Our tyres won't be that different from what we used at last month's tests. The range of tyres we bring to the race will be based on the data we got from those tests and adapted according to the weather conditions we can expect at Jerez in late March. Tyre behaviour changes a lot at Jerez according to the conditions, so we need to be ready for that.
"The new tyre rules require the riders, the teams and ourselves to carefully consider tyre strategy at each race. Riders are now limited to 14 front slicks and 17 rear slicks, but in fact not all those tyres will be focused on the expected conditions because we also have to make sure that riders have something to use if conditions are much hotter or much colder than expected. That's why strategy becomes very important with these new rules, and everybody has to deal with that. Each rider has to consider that the more different tyres he has, the less tyres he'll have of each type, and so on."
MICHELIN IN SPAIN
Michelin has a big manufacturing presence in Spain. About 9000 people work for Michelin in the country, many of them at the massive Lasarte factory that manufactures the majority of Michelin motorcycle tyres used around the world. Michelin MotoGP tyres are still produced at the company's Clermont-Ferrand HQ in France.