Phillip Island: Michelin preview

Superbike World Championship Round 2 Phillip Island (Australia) March 24th 2002 Troy Bayliss -- a perfect start. Two weeks ago, Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin) dominated the season opener at Valencia (Spain). The Australian won both...

Superbike World Championship
Round 2
Phillip Island (Australia)
March 24th 2002

Troy Bayliss -- a perfect start.

Two weeks ago, Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin) dominated the season opener at Valencia (Spain). The Australian won both races to take the championship lead. Bayliss had already been the fastest rider at the tests held at Valencia in February and the World Champion continued to show why he deserves that number one plate throughout those first two races of the new World Superbike season. "My tyres and my bike were both working really good" Bayliss said at Valencia. "I was a bit nervous this morning but it all came together in the races. My bike was working really well and I felt really confident half-way through, but then my mind started to wander so I told myself to concentrate and get on with the job."

Before the second race, Bayliss quickly switched to his number two machine. "At the start of race 2 we had a few little dramas", he added, "but my second bike is the same as the other one so things went smoothly. It took me some time to get into the leadin g group but once I was in the lead it all went smoothly until the flag".

Troy Bayliss: "We did a lot of work with tyres after getting an excellent baseline setting. I think the tests here at Phillip Island will give me a good kick-off point for the race. Colin Edwards on the new Honda is going to be my biggest rival for this ye ar's championship. A couple of other guys will win races but I think I'll have to watch out for Colin. I am really pleased to have set the quickest time at my home track. I've never won a World Superbike race here but after these three days of tests, in wh ich we found the right set-up and the right tyre, I'm sure I can get a win this time. Michelin always work very hard to give us better tyre".

Ruben Xaus: "The tests here at Phillip Island went really well and I feel very confident for the start of the season. I set my quickest time of the three days in race trim, which is the important thing. I did a lot of laps in the low 1:34s after 20-30 laps so I am very happy about that. In particular my time of 1'33.5 on the eighteenth lap of a long-run with race tyres shows that we are really competitive."

Colin Edwards: "I'm more than happy with the progress we've made. We arrived in positive mood after the Kyalami test and then improved the new SP-2 machine even more. We found some good settings, especially with the chassis set-up and front forks. We also learnt a little more about the new Michelin tyres we'll have for this year. I've a new machine in the SP-2 and from the early tests at the end of 2001 I know this machine is capable of winning the title. I feel at least as good as I did going into the 2000 season when I won the title and the new machine is the best superbike yet from Honda."

Phillip Island and tyres

Troy Bayliss: "It's my home track and last year was a nightmare because the weather was bad. This year we tested there and it was the first time I ever tested on a Ducati at Phillip Island and the test went really well. So I am looking forward to going to Phillip Island in front of my home crowd. I like everything about Phillip Island, it's fast. I have done a lot of racing there, I know Phillip Island quite well. It can be a strange place for the weather, it can change quite a lot. But I really enjoy racin g here and I am looking forward to it. "

Colin Edwards: "It's the best! Phillip Island is my favourite track, my favourite place to go to and race. The scenery, the view, the people, the track itself^Å It has everything from fifth gear corners to first gear corners, camber, off camber, elevation c hanges, just everything you'll ever want on a race track. "

Ruben Xaus:" It's a nice circuit close to the sea. It's fast and a lot of fun. To me, it's one of the most beautiful circuits in the world."

Back in the twenties, the roads around Philip Island were very popular with local speed freaks. In 1928, the first Australian car Grand Prix was held at the Island on a 6.5 miles/10.4585km course. 1931 was the year motorcycles first raced at the Island, fo r an event that was a lot like the Isle of Man TT on a 12 mile/19.308km course. The permanent racing facility was opened in 1956.

Philip Island is a varied and demanding 4.445km with everything from hairpins (minimum radius 23 m) to fast turns (maximum radius 207 m). Right-hand turns are scarce with only two such corners, Honda and Turn 10. In the fastest of left-handers, like turn 1 2 (the last turn before the start/finish straight), tyre temperatures go above normal levels. Standard running temperature for a rear slick is between 80 and 120C but at Phillip Island, they often go beyond 130C. Dual compound tyres are used. "The left a nd right sides of the tyre are made of different compounds," explains Jean Herisse, Michelin Superbike manager. " We use a harder compound for the left hand side because most of the turns on this track are left-handers."

"Making a duel compound tyre isn't much harder than making a standard tyre. You need the right tooling and know-how of course. Matching the two types of compounds properly is the difficult part."

To be fast at the Island, a rider needs to take care of his tyres. Precise throttle control is what's required to keep the tyres as fresh as possible over full race distance.

"This is the least symmetrical circuit on the calendar," adds Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's motorcycle competitions chief. "The left-hand turns are a problem because they are so fast. The edge of the rear tyre takes the full load of that speed which is the w orst situation for a tyre manufacturer. Grip isn't really a problem. The difficulty is making a tyre that has the right construction and compound to withstand very strong and very localized stresses."

Michelin and Phillip Island

Michelin brings a total of 600 tyres (400 rears and 200 fronts), wet and dry, for this race. Sizes are 19 / 67-420 (16,5 inch) for rear slicks, rain tyres and intermediates. Front tyre sizes are 12/60-420 (16.5 inch) tyres.

Michelin's on-site personnel includes one team manager, two technicians, four tyre fitters and one press officer.

Troy Bayliss: "When we decide to leave Australia, we give it everything "

Troy Bayliss was born on March 30th 1969 in Taree (Australia). Last year, he became the second Australian to be crowned World Superbike Champion after Troy Corser's 1996 title on a Ducati-Michelin. In 1999, Bayliss won the British Superbike Championship on a GSE Ducati. The following year, he put a Vance & Hines Ducati on the Daytona 200 pole. He was then called upon to sit in for injured World Superbike legend Carl Fogarty and nabbed the 2001 title with six wins: Monza (2), Lausitzring, Misano and Assen (2 ).

Troy, your international career started on October 5th 1997, when you finished 6th in the 250cc GP at Phillip Island on a Suzuki?

I thought that could be the start of it because many people were very interested. I did a good result for that weekend and a lot of people were very surprised. So we spoke to many teams, and there were a lot teams I could have had a ride with. But I had to bring some money and for me it was impossible. We tried to raise some money in Australia but we couldn't. So for sure if I was Spanish or Italian I would have been in GPs in 98^Å but no. And then I got a call from GSE in England and moved our famil y to England. That's when my career really took of.

Why are there so many good Australian riders?

We have the room to ride bikes. It's a little bit similar to Spain in a way, like a lot of riders come from a farm where they ride at a very young age. Now you see many Australian riders in Superbike, Supersport, GPs, motocross, enduro, speedway in England. When we decide to leave Australia, we give it everything we have to make a job in Europe.

Did you start racing young?

I did race when I was young, like I did minibikes. I did motocross and I stopped when I was 14 or 15. It was a strange time, we moved to the coast where there is not as much room. So the bikes just stopped and I did just school, like a normal teenager. And then I took a job at the end of school. When I was 23, I bought a Kawasaki ZXR 750 and after a few weeks I decided I wanted to go to a club race. That's how I started, when I was 23.

What is your relationship with Ducati like?

I started racing a Ducati privately for GSE in 98 and for the factory team halfway through the 2000 season. I think I've been lucky because all the teams I've been working with are very good people. I've always had a good relationship with my team. Now I am very happy because we have a great time together even if the language is a little bit difficult.

What are your thoughts on Michelin tyres?

I started to ride on Michelins half way through the 2000 season. My previous career was all done on Dunlops so when I first used Michelins I was very careful because it's something different. And then by the start of 2001 I was very happy and now I am very happy and very comfortable with Michelin. I think they suit me quite well. They are the best tyres".

-michelin-

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About this article
Series World Superbike
Drivers Troy Bayliss , Colin Edwards , Ruben Xaus , Troy Corser , Carl Fogarty , Phillip Island