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Michelin Aims To Keep 100% Island Record Michelin out to add to unbeaten record of nine premier-class island victories The island is one of the toughest tracks for tyres, says Michelin man Troy Bayliss Michelin man Michelin man Valentino Rossi...

Michelin Aims To Keep 100% Island Record

Michelin out to add to unbeaten record of nine premier-class island victories
The island is one of the toughest tracks for tyres, says Michelin man Troy Bayliss

Michelin man Michelin man Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) comes to Phillip Island this week with one hand on the 2004 MotoGP World Championship. Following his devastating victory in last Sunday's Malaysian GP the reigning Mo toGP king has a 30-point advantage over lone title rival Sete Gibernau an other Michelin man (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin). So even if Gibernau wins in Australia Rossi can clinch the crown with a second-place finish, with one race still remai ning.(because he has got more wins?)

If Rossi does take the title this Sunday he will have secured his fourth premier-class championship in a row and Michelin's 13th consecutive success in motorcycling's fastest, most technically challenge race series. At the same time he will also be battlin g to score his fourth successive win at Phillip Island and Michelin's tenth victory at the Australian track. In fact Michelin has never been beaten in a premier-class GP at the high-speed seaside venue, rated to be one of the most demanding on tyres.

MICHELIN RIDER TROY BAYLISS AND PHILLIP ISLAND

Local hero Troy Bayliss (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici GP4-Michelin) will be aiming to add some glitter to a lacklustre second MotoGP season when he comes home to Phillip Island this week. The New South Welshman, who currently lies 14th in the 2004 Worl d Championship, crashed out of last year's Australian GP after qualifying a promising fourth quickest.

Of course, Bayliss has enjoyed World Championship success on the island in the past, scoring World Superbike wins on his Michelin-equipped Ducati Superbike. And it was at the 1997 Phillip Island GP that Bayliss first grabbed the attention of big-time team managers with a stirring one-off ride in the 250 GP.

"I've had some good results on the island," he says. "It's a great place, the weather can be a bit up and down, but the track makes for great racing and everyone loves the scenery and the atmosphere. Plus it includes the best series of corners I've ever be en on -- the left-handers onto the straight are a lot of fun, just like the lefts onto the back straight at Misano. There are some really quick places at Phillip Island like Hayshed, which is fourth gear, just roll off the gas a bit and carry as much corner speed as you can. Then there's some strange corners like Lukey Heights, which you can't see, but you just know from experience where to be. MG is one of best places to pass but there's a lot of other places to pass here.

"It's pretty tough on tyres too. There are a lot of fast lefts all around the track, plus you're using a lot of throttle because it's a fast place, so you get a lot of wheelspin and a lot of heat generated in the tyres, especially the rear. You've got to t hink about it because these bikes have so much horsepower that you can spin it up out of every turn, so you can really burn up the rear if you're not thinking about it.

"It's definitely a fast place, where you need a lot of confidence in your bike and in your tyres. The 16.5in front we're using this year should help because it definitely gives you more sidegrip so you can carry a bit more corner speed, which is what you r eally need on the Island, plus it gives you more feel for sticking the bike on its side. Michelin have been working hard on that. But maybe the biggest thing about the 16.5 is that you can change direction quicker, which will help in quite a few places aro und the track, including Hayshed."

As well as the 16.5 front, Bayliss has also been using Michelin's latest 16.5 rear, the 'big foot' (as the riders like to call it). "First they had the S2 16.5, then the S4 and now this thing we call the 'big foot'," he adds. "This tyre is Michelin's next step. It's a bit wider than the S4, so it gives you a bit more of a contact patch which gives you some more sidegrip through the turns. In fact it's got so much grip that you can get on the throttle real hard and early in the corner, which then pushes the front, because you've transferred all the weight to the rear."

MICHELIN TYRES AND THE CHALLENGE OF PHILLIP ISLAND

Michelin has been triumphant on every one of its nine visits to Phillip Island for the Australian GP, proving that the company has an unrivalled record of providing the highest-performing tyres at a venue which is generally recognised as one of the world's toughest tracks on tyres.

Phillip Island is hugely challenging for tyre designers because riders use high lean angles and large throttle openings for much of the lap. That causes high tyre temperatures in any class of bike racing, but most particularly in MotoGP because the fastest machines in bike racing's premier class now produce in excess of 240 horsepower.

"I think this is the most interesting race for us because it is one of the biggest challenges for the tyre manufacturers," says Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcycling competitions. "We also love Phillip Island because the track is very fast and open, so it tends to encourage close and exciting racing.

"The circuit is very demanding on tyres because of all the long, fast corners. The bikes spend a lot of time on their sides, with the riders using a lot of throttle, so the temperatures generated can be the highest we see all season, depending on track tem perature. Conditions aren't generally that warm at Phillip Island at this time of year, though you never know. One thing is almost certain though -- it may feel a little cold after Qatar and Malaysia!

"We tested at Phillip Island during the off-season and it soon became clear that our 2004 rear offers real advantages in the long left-handers. The tyre increases traction and therefore delivers extra drive and less wheelspin.

"Our 16.5in front should also help because it offers excellent feedback. Good feedback gives riders more confidence to use the front tyre to the limit, so they can attack corners more aggressively. Corner-entry speed and mid-corner speed are important here because this track is all about maintaining momentum. It's not a stop-and-go track like many other places.

"The good thing about Phillip Island is that the track surface doesn't change its condition during the weekend. Unlike places like Losail and Welkom, it's pretty consistent throughout the weekend."

-michelin-

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Valentino Rossi , Troy Bayliss , Sete Gibernau , Phillip Island