Brands Hatch Michelin Superbike preview

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World Superbike Championship 13th and last round: Brands Hatch (United Kingdom) 15 October 2000 Edwards and the Honda VTR: a well-matched pair With seven victories in the 2000 edition of the World Superbike Championship, Colin Edwards ...

World Superbike Championship

13th and last round: Brands Hatch (United Kingdom)
15 October 2000

Edwards and the Honda VTR: a well-matched pair

With seven victories in the 2000 edition of the World Superbike Championship, Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda-Michelin) is the big name in this year's competition. He has scored points in 22 of the 24 races already run this year and taken eleven podiums, testimony to his skills and to the performance of his VTR 1000 SPW. Careful bike preparation and the right choice of Michelin tyres are key factors in this success story.

Colin Edwards pulled off a remarkable feat at the last event in Germany, taking pole position before going on to win both rounds. The Texan rider had set his sights on victory: "Right from the end of that second race in Holland the week before we've been set on winning in Oschersleben. The VTR has felt good all weekend. Michelin gave us the right rubber. I am so happy to get that one won."

The end of season has been a real nail biter. On top of accumulated fatigue and pressure, comes the added stress of a hotly disputed championship: "It's been a rollercoaster ride of a year but we've finally done it."

"All credit to the Castrol Honda team and to the new VTR machine. With regard to the championship, all that can happen now is for someone to take it away from me before Brands Hatch but what the hell, we've been wondering about this, that and everything else. We're assured that the least punishment Haga will get is to lose those points, what else they'll give him as a penalty, who knows ? " By "those points", Colin Edwards means the 45 points taken away from the Japanese rider by the FIM after testing positive for ephedrine at the Kyalami race on 2 April. The Sports Arbitration Tribunal will meet in Lausanne (Switzerland) on 12 October to examine Noriyuki Haga's case.

Ducati tests in Mugello

On 18 and 19 September, the Ducati Infostrada Michelin team conducted tests at the Mugello track in Italy. Making his comeback for this event, Carl Fogarty announced his definitive retirement from competition at the practice session. The end of a glorious career for the four-times world champion who was always faithful to Ducati and Michelin. All the members of the Michelin team would like to pay tribute to this great rider.

Riding the new 996, Troy Bayliss and Ruben Xaus beat their own personal bests with respectively 1'53"57 and 1'54"52. The Australian rider's time was the fastest ever recorded by a Ducati on the Tuscan track. We can look forward to a stunning performance from the Ducatis at Brands Hatch.

Supersport: Casoli in good shape

Paolo Casoli (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin Pilot) was present too at Mugello to test the new version of the 748. He also beat his personal record with a time of 1'58"57. Casoli entered the last race at Oschersleben as World Supersport Championship leader but lost points when he crashed out. Two of his three direct rivals, Christian Kellner (Yamaha) and Jörg Teuchert (Yamaha) had the same bad luck, giving the number four rider Stéphane Chambon (Suzuki) the chance to win the race and take the lead in the championship. Chambon now has an 11 point lead over Paolo Casoli, so if the Ducati rider wins at Brands Hatch, Chambon will need to arrive third at worst to take the championship. But watch out for Teuchert and Kellner, respectively 17 and 24 points behind the leader, who are still in with a chance. For this last race, we will follow the fortunes of Pere Riba (Castrol Honda-Michelin Pilot) and his young team-mate Chris Vermeulen, and of James Whitham (Yamaha Belgarda-Michelin Pilot), winner at Phillip Island this year.

The right tyres for the Brands Hatch circuit

Inaugurated as a motorcycle racing track in 1928, the Brands Hatch circuit is soon to become a Formula 1 racing venue. Michelin will be present for this big event, equipping the British manufacturer Jaguar Racing and the BMW-Williams team. Brands Hatch is now owned by the Octagon Group, which also handles broadcasting rights and marketing for the World Superbike Championship. The circuit was extended in 1953 to take in the uphill stretch leading to "Druids Bend" and in 1960 to include the big loop with the Hawthorn and Westfield bends. With a track now long enough to host international competitions (4.19 km), the first F1 race was held at Brands Hatch in 1964. Only 32 km from London, the circuit attracted a staggering 120,911 spectators for the Superbike Championship last year.

For Jean Hérissé, Michelin Superbike Competition manager, "the role of the circuit has changed over the years and this accounts for the two different types of surfacing. The Grand Prix circuit does not have the same grip as the "small" circuit. Riders are sometimes taken by surprise when they move from one to the other, especially in wet conditions. Grip is better on the Grand Prix extension than on the section in front of the stands and terraces."

Brands Hatch has plenty of gradients which make for very spectacular racing. It also has a very long, slightly raised right-hand curve on front of the stands which means that tyre heating is a common problem.

Late in the season, weather conditions at Brands Hatch are unpredictable and all teams want tyres that can cope with bad weather. For their racing debut at Assen, the new Michelin 16.5in rain tyres (12 / 60-420 front and 19 / 67-420 rear) proved their mettle. Colin Edwards and Juan Borja took an immediate lead in the first round on the wet surface and powered on to take first and second place unchallenged. These new 16.5in wet-weather tyres will be a vital asset for riders in this last round of the 2000 World Championship.

Technical back-up

For this British race, Michelin is bringing a total of 2000 tyres for wet and dry racing conditions.

In the Superbike category, four sizes are available: 18 / 67-17 (17in) and 19 / 67-420 (16.5in) for the rear slicks. In the front, riders can choose between 12 / 60-17 (17in) and 12 / 60-420 (16.5in). There are 800 tyres for dry conditions, 200 for wet weather and 100 intermediate. For the Supersport category, Michelin is offering 120 / 70 ZR 17 and 180 / 55 ZR 17 Pilot Race tyres. 900 tyre covers will be shipped to the circuit. The dry-weather tyres are approved for road use and the wet-weather tyres have been given the green light by the International Motorcycle Federation. This year, more than half the World Supersport riders are equipped with Michelin tyres.

On-site personnel include one manager, three technicians, seven fitters (including two British) and a press officer.

Michelin and F1

Michelin's position in Grand Prix bikes is not the company's only motorsport success story. In fact it's fair to say that no other tyre manufacturer is involved in as much racing at international level as the French giant. On two wheels, the company is at the forefront of Grand Prix, Superbike, Trials, Enduro,Motocross and Endurance with the last victory at the Bol d'Or event. On four wheels Michelin leads both championships in World Rallying following its recent victory in Finland, dominated this year's Le Mans 24 Hours (the first 9 cars home were all shod with Michelin!) and remains the benchmark tyre in all forms of Supertouring, with some 900 race wins since 1993.

2001 marks the company's return to the Formula One car arena for the first time since 1984, so is this a change of direction for Michelin?

"At Michelin we know that motorsport is crucial to us," pronounces Michelin competitions director Pierre Dupasquier, who is currently heading the brand's return to Formula One with Williams BMW and Jaguar-Racing. "We've been away from Formula One for a long time but we've stayed in bikes, rallying, endurance and so on, and we will continue to do that. Formula One is very important, but it's not everything, it's just one part of motorsport. Our return to Formula One very much completes our racing portfolio: we are already the tyre maker by far the most committed to motorsport and F1 is an additional discipline, but not one that will affect our other involvements."

Pierre Dupasquier, who's been involved with two wheels since he was 12, has always held a special affection for the world of motorcycling. "Motorcyclists are difficult customers and we like that, we like a challenge," he says. "They know what they're talking about and they know what they want, and we get a lot of satisfaction giving that to them."

"Bikes are such a special challenge because every rider rides differently and in racing many different riders need different tyres to suit their style. Car racing is more straightforward in some ways; the driver turns the steering wheel and the car goes around the corner; on two wheels riders actually use the front tyre in a very special way and they move around the machine to change the way it behaves."

"Also, our success in bikes is acknowledged by a wider audience, not just by bikers. Take Patrick Head from Williams BMW; he sometimes rides a bike to F1 GPs and he always prefers Michelin because he can see we're the leaders on two wheels. And the technology we learn works both ways, car racing can help bikes and vice versa".

Michelin is already involved in an intense testing programme for the 2001 Formula One season. The following year Japanese car giant Toyota will also join the series, running Michelin.

<pre> 2000 Superbike World Championship (provisional positions)* 1 - Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda - Michelin) 367 points 2 - Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha WSBK Team) 315 points 3 - Troy Corser (Aprilia Axo Team) 288 points 4 - Pierfrancesco Chili (Team Suzuki Alstare Corona Extra) 234 points 5 - Akira Yanagawa (Kawasaki Racing Team) 228 points 6 - Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada - Michelin) 223 points 7 - Ben Bostrom (Team Ducati NCR - Michelin) 169 points 8 - Aaron Slight (Castrol Honda - Michelin) 142 points 9 - Katsuaki Fujiwara (Team Suzuki Alstare Corona Extra) 140 points 10 - Gregorio Lavilla (Kawasaki Racing Team) 116 points 11 - Juan Borja (Ducati Infostrada - Michelin) 111 points 12 - Andreas Meklau (Gerin WSBK Team - Michelin) 92 points

2000 Supersport World Championship (provisional positions)* 1 - Stéphane Chambon (Team Suzuki Alstare Corona Extra) 133 points 2 - Paolo Casoli (Ducati Infostrada - Michelin) 122 points 3 - Jorg Teuchert (Alpha Technik Yamaha) 116 points 4 - Christian Kellner (Alpha Technik Yamaha) 109 points 5 - James Whitham (Yamaha Belgarda - Michelin) 88 points 6 - Karl Muggeridge (Team Ten Kate Honda) 88 points 7 - Rubens Xaus (Ducati Infostrada - Michelin) 77 points 8 - Iain MacPherson (Kawasaki Racing Team) 69 points 9 - Massimo Meregalli (Yamaha Belgarda - Michelin) 58 points 10 - Fabrizio Pirovano (Team Suzuki Alstare Corona Extra) 53 points 11 - Piergiorgio Bontempi (Ducati D.C.R.) 51 points 12 - Andrew Pitt (Kawasaki Racing Team) 50 points

Benchmark times

Superbike:

2000: best time in the official tests 1'26"235 by Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha) at the average speed of 176.212 km/h

2000: superpole time 1'26"381 by Neil Hodgson (Ducati) at the average speed of 175.914 km/h

2000: lap record (best race time) 1'26"910 by Neil Hodgson (Ducati) at the average speed of 174.843 km/h (Lap 8,round 2).

2000: 1st round results 1- Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin) the 25 laps (105.525 km / 65 miles) in 36'35"753 at the average speed of 173.011 km/h 2- Neil Hodgson (Ducati) at 0"235 3- Chris Walker (Suzuki) at 8"782 4- John Reynolds (Ducati) at 11"737 5- Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha) at 12"516

2000: 2nd round results 1- Neil Hodgson (Ducati) the 25 laps (105.525 km / 65 miles) in 36'33"880 at the average speed of 173.525 km/h 2- Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin) at 0"732 3- Pierfrancesco Chili (Suzuki) at 4"759 4- Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha) at 7"081 5- Akira Yanagawa (Kawasaki) at 7"917

1999: 1st round results 1- Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda-Michelin) the 25 laps (105.525 km / 65 miles) in 36'51"715 at the average speed of 171.763 km/h 2- Aaron Slight (Castrol Honda-Michelin) at 1"429 3- Pierfrancesco Chili (Suzuki Alstare) at 7"879

1999: 2nd round results 1- Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda-Michelin) the 25 laps (105.525 km / 65 miles) in 26'52"981 at the average speed of 171.664 km/h 2- Aaron Slight (Castrol Honda-Michelin) at 0"087 3- Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha WSBK Team-Michelin) at 9"268

Supersport:

2000: best times in the official tests 1'29"822 by Karl Muggeridge (Ten Kate Honda) at the average speed of 169.170 km/h

2000: lap record (and best race time) 1'30'129 by Iain MacPherson (Kawasaki) at the average speed of 168.598 km/h (Lap 18).

2000: race results 1- Paolo Casoli (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin) the 23 laps (97.083 km / 59.8 miles) in 34'58"073 at the average speed of 166.581 km/h 2- Karl Muggeridge (Ten Kate Honda) at 0"224 3- Iain MacPherson (Kawasaki) at 0"288 4- Pere Riba (Castrol Honda-Michelin) at 1"871 5- Jim Moodie (Yamaha) at 1"883

1999 : race results 1- Stéphane Chambon (Suzuki Alstare) the 23 laps (97.083 km / 59.8 miles) in 35'25"212 at the average speed of 164.454 km/h 2- Ruben Xaus (Dee Cee Jeans Yamaha-Michelin Pilot) at 4"908 3- Christiano Migliorati (Endoug Metalsistem Suzuki-Michelin Pilot) at 5"077 4- Piergiorgio Bontempi (Yamaha Belgarda-Michelin Pilot) at 7"097 5- Massimo Meregalli (Yamaha Belgarda-Michelin Pilot) at 7"178

</pre> Michelin's results

A few of Michelin's international victories this year

Superbike

In the World Superbike Championship, Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda-Michelin) won both rounds at Kyalami, the first round at Donington, the second round at Monza, the first race at Assen and the two Oschersleben races. Anthony Gobert (MVR Bimota Experience-Michelin) won the first round on home territory at Phillip Island while Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin) took the first rounds at Hockenheim and Brands Hatch.

Supersport In the World Supersport Championship, James Whitham (Yamaha Belgarda-Michelin Pilot) won at Phillip Island; Paolo Casoli (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin Pilot) won at Monza and Brands Hatch; and Ruben Xaus (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin Pilot) won at Assen.

500 Grand Prix

Michelin claimed its 250th Grand Prix success story this year, with Alex Crivillé (Repsol YPF Honda-Michelin) in the French Grand Prix event, before going on to claim seven further victories, culminating with number 257 at the Spanish Grand Prix thanks to Garry Mc Coy (Red Bull Yamaha WCM-Michelin).

Endurance, motocross and trial

In the World Endurance Championship, Costes/Charpentier/Gimbert (Honda-Michelin) won the 24-Hours Le Mans event, with Deletang/Foret/Willis (Yamaha-Michelin) following their excellent example at the 24-Hours Liège and the Bol d'Or events.

In motocross racing, in 250cc category, Pitt Beirer (Kawasaki-Michelin) won the Swiss Grand Prix ahead of Michaël Mashio (Kawasaki-Michelin) and Claudio Federici (Yamaha-Michelin).

Doug Lampkin (Montesa-Honda) won the World Trial Championship for the fourth time running.

Rallying racing

McRae-Grist (Ford-Michelin) won the Catalunya and Acropolis Rallies, while Mäkinen/Mannisenmaki (Mitsubishi-Michelin) raced to victory in Monte Carlo, and Grönholm & Rautiainen (Peugeot-Michelin) won in Sweden, New Zealand and Finland. The Cyprus rally was won by Sainz/Moya (Ford-Michelin).

Le Mans 24-hours and FIA-GT

At the Le Mans 24-Hours Race, Michelin pulled off a major exploit, equipping all top nine cars, including, of course, the winners Biela/Kristensen/Pirro (Audi-Michelin).

In FIA-GT, Bailey/Campbell/Walter (Lister Storm-Michelin) won at Valencia, Estoril, Silverstone and Zolder. Hezemans-Hart (Chrysler Viper GTS R-Michelin) won the Monza event and Hezemans/Coronel (Chrysler Viper GTS R-Michelin) won at Spielberg. Michelin scored a hat-trick in the general classification at the last event in Brno with Hezemans-Hart (Chrysler Viper GTS R-Michelin) in first place, followed by Bailey-Campbell-Walter (Lister Storm-Michelin) and Springer-Favre (Lister Storm-Michelin).

Winners at the 12-Hours Sebring event were Biela/Kristensen/Pirro (Audi-Michelin) (general) and Beretta/Wendlinger/Dupuy (Dodge Viper GTS R-Michelin) (GTS), and the Viper team also won the 24-hour Daytona event.

Lehto/Müller (BMW V12 LMR-Michelin) won the American Le Mans Series at Charlotte (USA) and Silverstone (UK), Brabham/Magnussen (Panoz-Michelin) won at Nürburgring, and McNish/Capello (Audi-Michelin) won at Sears Point, Mosport and Portland. As for Pirro/Biela (Audi-Michelin), they won at Fort Worth, Texas.

<pre> Michelin partners

Official Michelin Superbike runners 1 Carl Fogarty (GBR) Injured and temporarly replaced by 21 Troy Bayliss (AUS) Ducati Ducati Infostrada 2 Colin Edwards (USA) Honda Castrol Honda 10 Vittoriano Guareschi (ITA) Yamaha Yamaha Belgarda WSBK Team 13 Andreas Meklau (AUT) Ducati Gerin WSBK Team 19 Juan Borja (SPA) Ducati Ducati Infostrada 20 Doriano Romboni (ITA) Ducati Team R&D Bieffe 33 Robert Ulm (AUT) Ducati Gerin WSBK Team 111 Aaron Slight (NZL) Honda Castrol Honda 155 Ben Bostrom (USA) Ducati Team Ducati NCR

Official Michelin Supersport runners 5 Ruben Xaus (E) Ducati Ducati Infostrada 8 Cristiano Migliorati (I) Suzuki Team Metalsistem Endoug Suzuki 9 Wilco Zeelenberg (NED) Yamaha Dee Cee Jeans Racing Team 10 William Costes (F) Honda Team Honda France Elf 15 Paolo Casoli (I) Ducati Ducati Infostrada 16 Sébastien Charpentier (F) Honda Team Honda France Elf 17 Pere Riba (E) Honda Castrol Honda 18 Vittoriano Iannuzzo (I) Yamaha Team Lorenzini by Leoni 19 Walter Tortoroglio (I) Ducati DFX Racing 20 Karl Harris (GB) Suzuki Team Metalsistem Endoug Suzuki 21 Massimo Meregalli (I) Yamaha Yamaha Belgarda 25 Igor Jerman (SLO) Ducati TDC Desenzano Corse 27 Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Honda Castrol Honda 29 Christer Lindholm (S) Yamaha Dee Cee Jeans Racing Team 34 Yves Briguet (CH) Ducati DFX Racing 69 James Whitham (GB) Yamaha Yamaha Belgarda

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