Michelin pleased with season start

Michelin scores resounding successes on all fronts Following highly convincing displays in the first three Formula One Grands Prix of the season -- including taking the top 8 places in the most recent race in Bahrain, Michelin continues to take...

Michelin scores resounding successes on all fronts

Following highly convincing displays in the first three Formula One Grands Prix of the season -- including taking the top 8 places in the most recent race in Bahrain, Michelin continues to take the laurels in all forms of motorsport.

This weekend saw the tyre manufacturer engaged in World class action on no less than three different continents, but the results were the same, no matter what the discipline or the terrain: resounding successes on all fronts.

Whether it was on two wheels in the opening round of the MotoGP World Championship or in the desert tracks of Tunisia, or on four on the gravel of New Zealand or the tarmac of Monza, Michelin and its partners triumphed throughout.

In World Rallying, reigning champion Sebastien Loeb brought his Citroen home in first place in the Rally of New Zealand, his success due in no small part to Michelin's latest evolution rally tyres, produced specifically for the event.

The Frenchman said "I am particularly pleased with this weekend's result because we won in a straight fight with Marcus [Gronholm] and Petter [Solberg]. Michelin has worked really hard and this has played a big part in the result. On the second day for example, the surface had been swept clean during the first run and my wear-resistant, hard compound Michelin tyres allowed me to corner hard. They were great. When I saw the split times showing that I was pulling clear of my rivals, I decided to push hard."

Meanwhile back in Europe in what is becoming one of the most-watched sports in the world, the first round of the MotoGP World Championship really lived up to its promise. An incredibly close battle between the sport's two big rivals saw Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) and Sete Gibernau (Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin) fight an enthralling duel all the way to the last corner at Jerez, Rossi finally coming out on top.

"That was a very tough race at a very high level," said reigning MotoGP World Champion Rossi after his 43rd premier-class win, all achieved with Michelin. "We were running pretty much the same pace as last year's pole time, which is incredible. That shows that Michelin has worked very hard over the winter, as well as Yamaha and Honda, Sete and me. This has always been one of my magic tracks, but today we proved that this is going to be a very tough season."

At Monza in Italy, another Championship also got underway this weekend. The FIA GT Championship saw one of its closest-ever finishes with the first three coming home less than 1.5 seconds apart after 500 km of racing. The win for Michelin-shod Ferrari 550 Maranello of Lamy and Gardel was all the sweeter as they beat the four purpose-built Maseratis, which have somewhat controversially been homologated into the series.

Michelin Deputy Director of Motorsport, Frederic Henry-Biabaud said "We have again proved this weekend in Monza that our tyres really can make a difference. The Ferrari won this race despite the armada of Maseratis that are akin to prototypes. We were able to do two ‘stints' on our soft tyres, as indeed our competitor tried, but the enduring performance of the Michelins gave us an edge over the last laps."

At the same circuit, meanwhile, Dirk Muller (BMW-Michelin) made history by winning the opening race of the new FIA World Touring Car Championship. This brand new World Championship features incredibly exciting racing and the two races in Monza were simply breathtaking. James Thompson gave Alfa Romeo victory in the second event.

Although Michelin supplies tyres for all the cars in a 'control' format, the technical challenge of this championship for the tyre manufacturer cannot be underestimated: Michelin has to provide a tyre that gives an equal level of performance to cars as different as the front-wheel drive Alfa Romeo and the rear-driven BMW.

And it has to be able to do that with the same tyre on all the different circuits of the series, in temperatures that can be as low as 10 (as it was in Monza) to as high as 40, which is the temperature expected when the championship visits Mexico later this year. The tyres also have to reach peak performance immediately, for the all-important qualifying sessions, but they have to last for the whole race!

"A lot of work goes into finding the right tyre for the championship during winter testing," explains Michelin's Circuit Racing Manager Matthieu Bonardel. "Our experience in Super Touring racing is invaluable and we have produced a tyre that allows all the competitors, no matter what their configuration, to show their potential. Monza proved clearly that we have a tyre that is both quick and reliable, while offering equal performance to all the teams. The WTCC looks like being a great Championship!"

While all this was happening in Europe and New Zealand, competitors were finishing a week's hard graft in Africa in the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies. The Rally of Tunisia, which finished today (Monday) saw more success for the tyre brand, with Cyril Desprès adding to his Dakar success by winning the bike section on his Michelin-equipped KTM.


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About this article
Series Cross-Country Rally , Formula 1 , MotoGP , WRC , WTCC , Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Dirk Müller , Valentino Rossi , Sébastien Loeb , James Thompson , Sete Gibernau , Cyril Despres
Teams Citroën World Rally Team