MICHELIN MEN ON THE PACE WITH NEW REAR SLICKS Michelin riders travel to Donington Park looking for further strong performances following some impressive rides at the last two MotoGP events. Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) and...
MICHELIN MEN ON THE PACE WITH NEW REAR SLICKS
Michelin riders travel to Donington Park looking for further strong performances following some impressive rides at the last two MotoGP events. Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC212V-Michelin) both finished on the podium at Mugello and Catalunya, reinforcing their challenges for the 2007 MotoGP championship crown as the season nears its halfway point.
Rossi won at Mugello in brilliant style and fought a dazzling battle for Catalunya victory with Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici), eventually missing out on the win by less than seven hundredths of a second. Pedrosa finished third in Italy but upped the ante for his home GP, where he chose one of Michelin's new harder construction rear slicks for the first time, and ran with Stoner and Rossi throughout. Rossi has been using these latest construction slicks since post-French GP tests at Le Mans.
MICHELIN AND THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE OF DONINGTON PARK
"Donington is a real challenge because the two sections of the track are very different, demanding different things from the tyres says". Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing."Through the faster part riders need good manoeuvrability for the high-speed direction changes and good stability, especially through the longer corners like Hollywood and Coppice. For the slow part they need good traction. The track is also very asymmetric, with very few left-handers, so tyre warm-up, especially on the left side is crucial
"We use a medium range of rear tyres at Donington because the tarmac isn't so aggressive, because riders need good traction out of the slow turns and because there's not a lot of long corners where riders are using a lot of throttle for long periods of time, much of the track is part throttle. We know from our experience what to do with compounds and constructions to offer more stability or more traction. All tracks demand some kind of compromise between these two, though Donington requires quite a big compromise.
"We also use medium range fronts at Donington because although there's some heavy braking it's not from super-high speeds and riders certainly don't need harder fronts like they did at Mugello and Catalunya, which both place much greater stresses on the front tyre.
"This track isn't so easy, however, especially when you throw in the extra factor of unpredictable weather. Sometimes we get good weather at Donington, other times it's very cold and wet, so we have to produce tyres that cover a large range of temperatures. Also, we have to consider the likely temperature changes during the day. There could be a big difference between the morning and afternoons session temperatures, like at Jerez where it was very cold in the morning and 15 degrees warmer in the afternoon. It's not so easy to cover that temperature range within the new tyre rules, it's a real challenge."
DEVELOPMENT OF MICHELIN'S NEW CONSTRUCTION REAR SLICK
"We started working on a different family of stronger constructions after April's Turkish GP and we've been improving step by step. We made some good improvements during the post-French GP tests at Le Mans -- Valentino won in Italy using a new construction he tested at Le Mans and came so close to winning again a Catalunya. Of course, we have to adapt tyre stiffness of this new family of tyres to suit the stresses experienced at each circuit. The construction we use at Donington may be close to what we used at the last two races but it won't be the same because the British track isn't as aggressive on tyres as Mugello and Catalunya.
"Not all of our riders prefer this family of stiffer constructions. Dani tested the harder tyres at Le Mans and although he didn't immediately want to go in that direction he did choose a stiffer construction at Catalunya, identical to the construction used by Rossi. In the past Dani preferred a slightly softer construction tyre that gave him a good feeling in the early stages of a race, but it seems the harder tyre gives him the chance to be more competitive over full-race distance."
MICHELIN IN THE UK
Michelin has been in the UK for more than a century and currently employs 3,500 people in the region. Sports bikes dominate the market so Michelin's Pilot Power 2CT, Power Sport and Pilot Road 2 tyres -- all developed with MotoGP technology -- are in big demand. Further info at www.michelin.co.uk.