SPECIAL CHALLENGE FOR MICHELIN AT LAGUNA This weekend's United States Grand Prix presents an extra-special challenge for Michelin's MotoGP team. Laguna Seca was resurfaced just a few weeks ago, so Michelin goes into this event 'blind', creating...
SPECIAL CHALLENGE FOR MICHELIN AT LAGUNA
This weekend's United States Grand Prix presents an extra-special challenge for Michelin's MotoGP team. Laguna Seca was resurfaced just a few weeks ago, so Michelin goes into this event 'blind', creating a broader-than-usual range of tyres that should offer its nine MotoGP riders winning grip, whatever the characteristics of the new surface.
So far this season Michelin has provided winning grip at nine of the first ten races, with its riders filling 25 of a potential 30 podium places and holding the top four positions in the current World Championship standings.
Series leader Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) will be looking for a repeat of his sensational 2005 Laguna victory to stretch his points lead, which shrunk slightly last Sunday when Valentino Rossi (Camel Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) won the German GP to move into second overall. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) is currently third with Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda RC211V-Michelin) fourth. Just 35 points cover the top four riders.
MICHELIN'S RESPONSE TO THE CHALLENGE OF LAGUNA SECA
"It's great to go to the States because obviously it's a very important market for us," says Michelin's motorcycle racing director Nicolas Goubert. "This will be an interesting weekend because the track has been resurfaced, so that probably means a big change in its characteristics. In fact it will be almost like going to a new track for us. In theory, the grip level should be a lot higher than before, but until we get there we won't know exactly what kind of effect the new tarmac will have on tyres. On top of that, the surface will probably change a lot during the course of the weekend because it's brand new, which will make it a difficult event for all the tyre makers.
"To be preparedfor such unpredictable conditions we will take more than our usual supply of tyres to Laguna. For most races we take around 1000 tyres for our nine riders, this weekend we'll have about ten per cent more than that. We will offer slightly more choice than usual, but there's no point in having too great a choice because there simply isn't enough time for riders to test too many different tyres. The main thing is to have tyres that will cover a larger range of conditions.
"The old surface was quite easy on tyres because it wasn't too grippy or aggressive. That's why finding traction used to the key point at Laguna. The new surface should make it easier to find traction, but we'll have to wait and see if it will cause any problems on tyre temperature and tyre wear. We still don't think the circuit will be too tough on tyres, because the layout, with no long corners or long straights, isn't demanding.