Valencian GP: Michelin preview

MICHELIN SET FOR MotoGP GRAND FINALE AT TIGHT & TECHNICAL VALENCIA The 2007 MotoGP World Championship has its grand finale at Valencia, the tough little Spanish track that has brought the curtain down on the MotoGP season for the last five years.

MICHELIN SET FOR MotoGP GRAND FINALE AT TIGHT & TECHNICAL VALENCIA

The 2007 MotoGP World Championship has its grand finale at Valencia, the tough little Spanish track that has brought the curtain down on the MotoGP season for the last five years. The Valencia Grand Prix always enjoys a party atmosphere, with over 200,000 fans attending the event staged around a tight, slow-speed racetrack that is nonetheless extremely demanding on tyres.

Michelin's riders will be going all out to win their sixth victory of the year at the Spanish track, with five-time premier-class champ Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) and local hero Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC212V-Michelin) contesting the runner-up spot in the World Championship. Both men had strong rides at the previous Malaysian GP, Pedrosa taking pole position and a close-run third-place finish, just 2.326 seconds off the win. Rossi finished fifth after a spirited ride through the pack and was the fastest man on track during the final laps, finishing just 4.773 seconds off the win, despite losing 3.496 seconds in the first lap after starting from the third row. 2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC212V-Michelin) was also strong at Sepang, using Michelin's new 16-inch rear slick on his way to setting the fourth fastest lap after running off the track mid-race.

MICHELIN AND THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE OF VALENCIA

Valencia is MotoGP's second slowest racetrack, after Estoril, with a unique layout that arranges the circuit in a tightly packed area that affords fans a full view of the entire track from the massive grandstands. This spectator-friendly concept packs Valencia's 14 corners very close together, so riders spend most of the lap either cornering or changing direction, which places great stresses on the tyres as well as demanding excellent manoeuvrability from the motorcycles. Valencia runs anti-clockwise (it is one of five left-handed MotoGP tracks) and is also very asymmetric, with nine left-handers and five rights, which adds further complexity to the task of tyre design.

"Valencia is quite tough on tyres, it's especially demanding on the left side," says Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. "It is also a very tight and twisty circuit, so it's important to have a good balance between easy handling and tyres that can cope with the stress, especially on the left side. The difference in compounds on the left and right side of the tyres is quite big, rather like Phillip Island, because you need quite a hard solution for all the left-handers, especially the long, fast left at the end of the lap, and a softer solution, with good warm-up, for the right side, because there aren't so many right-handers.

"We are confident that our latest profiles and constructions will also work there after our top riders managed quite strong performances at Sepang, which showed we are working in the right direction. Dani and Valentino were both very fast at Sepang and Nicky was also very quick. We hope that a good result at Valencia will confirm our recent development work.

"The tyres we use at Valencia will be the same basic spec as we've used at the last few races, adjusted to suit the particular demands of this track. Our current 16.5-inch rear is the fourth generation of a construction we first used in April. It offers good edge grip and acceleration traction, which are both extremely important at Valencia because riders spend so much time banked over through the curves. Nicky used our new 16-inch rear slick at the last two races and we expect to continue working with him and the 16 at Valencia.

"Valencia is also quite tough on the front tyre, because there is so much turning involved. We have three types of 16-inch front tyre at the moment, but we will only be working with the first two of these at Valencia. Riders like to use a front tyre that they know very well, so we will only start working on the third front when off-season testing begins at Valencia on the Tuesday after the race."

VALENCIA DATA

Lap record: Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici GP6), 1m 32.924s, 155.159km/h-96.411mph (2006)

Pole position 2006: Valentino Rossi (Camel Yamaha YZR-M1-Michelin), 1m 31.002s

-credit: michelin/accession.com

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Phillip Island
Teams Repsol Honda Team