MICHELIN AIMS TO REPEAT TURKISH F1 DELIGHT After dominating August's Turkish F1 race, Michelin aim for a repeat on two wheels Michelin goes into the inaugural Turkish motorcycle Grand Prix aiming to score ...
MICHELIN AIMS TO REPEAT TURKISH F1 DELIGHT
After dominating August's Turkish F1 race, Michelin aim for a repeat on two wheels
Michelin goes into the inaugural Turkish motorcycle Grand Prix aiming to score its 14th success of the 2005 MotoGP season. The renowned French tyre company has already wrapped up the World Championship - with Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) - and its riders currently fill the top five positions in the points standings, with Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin), Marco Melandri (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin), Colin Edwards (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR- M1-Michelin) and Max Biaggi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) locked in battle for second overall.
This weekend the company's MotoGP crew will be doing everything to emulate the success of their F1 car colleagues who scored a rout in August's inaugural Turkish F1 car race, taking the first nine finishing positions, led by Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren Mercedes-Michelin) and eventual World Champion Fernando Alonso (Renault-Michelin).
The Istanbul Park Circuit is one of two new venues on this year's MotoGP calendar. It is also one of five anti- clockwise MotoGP tracks, and the second of a run of three left-handed circuits that complete the season - Phillip Island, Istanbul and Valencia. Much of the circuit, situated in undulating countryside on the Asian side of capital Istanbul, is medium-speed corners, with just one very fast right-hander on the back straight near the end of the lap.
Michelin tyres have been sold in Turkey since 1936. In 1996 the company established a subsidiary - Michelin Lastikleri Ticaret A.S - which enjoys growing sales in a growing market.
MICHELIN AND THE CHALLENGE OF ISTANBUL
Michelin's MotoGP engineers face a very special challenge this weekend: to supply tyres that offer excellent grip and endurance on a track they've never even seen before. Usually Michelin provides tailor-made tyres for each MotoGP circuit, created from the company's knowledge of that track's layout and surface. This time Michelin's engineers have to be prepared for all eventualities: will the Istanbul circuit be easy on tyres, or average or very demanding? To ensure they are indeed ready for anything, they will bring a slightly larger than usual range of tyres to Turkey that will cover a larger than normal range of conditions.
"Just by looking at the layout of the Istanbul track we can guess that it's quite demanding on tyres," says Michelin's chief of motorcycle competitions Nicolas Goubert. "For example, there's a triple left (turn eight) which should put a lot of heat into the tyres. The other complication could be sand on the track, a bit like Qatar, because the area surrounding the circuit is still very sandy. For these two reasons I think it will be a tough weekend as we try to find the right solution for the conditions.
"We do have some information from our colleagues in F1, though they can give only us a rough direction because car and bike tyres are so different, but every little helps. All I can say is that I hope we do as well as they did at this track!
"As always with new tracks, we don't really know what to expect, so we have to take tyres with a wider range of performance. We will also give our riders a slightly larger choice. At most tracks we usually offer three or four different rear tyres and two fronts, but for Istanbul we will probably have five rears and three or four fronts."
THE LOGISTICS OF FIVE FLYAWAYS
Racing is ultimately about getting around the racetrack as fast as possible, but to do that you first need everything in place. The fastest MotoGP rider in the universe wouldn't be very fast at all if he didn't have any tyres! That's why good logistics are vital to Michelin, especially during what is almost certainly the most complex run of races in MotoGP history. This weekend's Turkish GP is the fifth race in six weekends, the previous four having taken place in Japan, Malaysia, Qatar and last Sunday in Australia!
"From a logistics point of view, this has probably been our most complicated series of races in MotoGP," explains Nicolas Goubert. "Five flyaways over six weekends require a lot of planning to ensure we always have the right tyres in the right place.
"We usually make three tyre shipments from Clermont-Ferrand for each GP. The first usually leaves the factory on the Friday or Saturday before the race, so for this race the first tyres left Clermont-Ferrand while we were starting practice at Phillip Island. The second consignment leaves on the Monday, the final lot of tyres on Tuesday. We do it this way for two main reasons - it's easier for our shipping company to find freight space and because if anything goes wrong, with transport, customs or whatever, we will always have some tyres at the track. The first shipment is usually 300 to 400 tyres, the second and third 200 to 300 each. We also have other tyres, maybe a third of the total, coming from the previous race, so some tyres, mostly fronts and rain tyres, come to Istanbul from Phillip Island. The aim is always to have 1200 to 1300 tyres for our 11 riders."
Michelin's MotoGP crew numbers around 20 engineers and fitters. The team freights about ten tonnes of tyres and equipment to each 'flyaway' race.