MICHELIN MEN READY FOR HIGH-SPEED ASSEN
Michelin's MotoGP men currently hold six of the top eight points positions
Michelin's MotoGP crew goes into action at Assen this Thursday just four days after competing in last Sunday's British Grand Prix. Saturday's Dutch TT is the fourth event in just five weekends and marks the halfway stage in this year's 18-race MotoGP World Championship.
Michelin's current top MotoGP performer is Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V-Michelin) who has scored an impressive two victories and a further five podiums from the first eight races. Pedrosa holds second overall at the moment with five other Michelin riders in the top eight. Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) is fourth overall despite two DNFs, the brilliant rookie followed in the championship table by Colin Edwards (Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin), Andrea Dovizioso (JiR Team Scot Honda RC212V-Michelin), Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V-Michelin) and James Toseland (Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin).
Assen is the most historic race on the MotoGP calendar, the only venue surviving from the World Championship's inaugural year in 1949. Michelin has a great record at the track, winning all but two of the last 22 premier-class GPs staged there.
The circuit, which originally featured public roads, has undergone major revisions in recent years, most notably in 2006 when the northern loop was axed, reducing circuit length from 5.997km/3.726 miles to 4.555km/2.500 miles. Assen still retains some of its original character, however, with fast, banked corners its most interesting feature.
MICHELIN AND THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE OF ASSEN
"Assen is the most banked track that we go to," says Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's chief of motorcycle racing. "The banking means extra load for the bike and for the tyres, which does increase heat inside the tyres, plus Assen is a fast circuit, but the heat isn't so much, it's not an extreme circuit for tyres. Estoril, for example, is a more extreme track which demands specific tyres because there's such a big difference between the compounds used on the left and right there. Assen requires medium-hard tyres because you need stability for the fast corners and traction out of the slower corners.
"Apart from the banked surface, Assen's other main characteristic is its fast, flowing series of corners. One corner leads immediately into the other, so handling and stability are very important, so we use tyres that will give the bike good handling and stability. Assen has good grip, it's also pretty smooth because it isn't used as much as many other tracks. And, of course, the weather can change a lot, which makes the tyre companies' job extra tough. But we are getting used to changeable weather conditions, the rain seems to be following us wherever we go!
"This year our tyres have a broader working range, which means we need less different specifications than we needed last year, so we have been able to use more similar tyres at most tracks. The broader working range also means we can adapt our tyres from one circuit to the next without changing the tyres too much. These improvements are very important because when you have a smaller range of tyres that work well at different tracks, our riders get to know the tyres better, which really helps them. Also, when more of our riders use similar tyres it's better for development because we get better global feedback from the riders."
ASSEN: 4.555km/2.830 miles
Lap record: Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin), 1m 37.106s, 168.867km/h-104.929mph (2006)
Pole position 2007: Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki GSV-R), 1m 48.555s