MICHELIN AIMS TO BUILD ON MUGELLO SUCCESS Michelin goes to Catalunya fresh from its superb one-two at Mugello, where Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC212V-Michelin) dominated in fine style.
MICHELIN AIMS TO BUILD ON MUGELLO SUCCESS
Michelin goes to Catalunya fresh from its superb one-two at Mugello, where Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC212V-Michelin) dominated in fine style. Rossi now lies just nine points off the World Championship lead following his second victory of 2007, while Spanish hero Pedrosa lies third, a further 24 points down.
Rossi's Mugello success confirmed that Michelin is working in a good direction with its 16-inch front slick, introduced at the start of the 2007 season, and with its new construction rear slick, introduced at last month's Chinese GP. Michelin is currently focusing a lot of effort on its rear tyres to enable riders to exploit the performance characteristics of the new 800 MotoGP machines.
"MotoGP is now witnessing an aggressive battle between the tyre companies, with tyre performance at a very high level, which is great for the sport," says Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. "We have to work very hard to find the best solution for each race, so although Mugello confirmed that we have taken a good direction with our new rear casing, we know that we have to keep working and keep thinking to give our riders what they need at Barcelona and at the subsequent races. We will keep pouring all our efforts into our development programme because we know the fight will continue to be tough."
MICHELIN AND THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE OF CATALUNYA
"Catalunya features aggressive tarmac and some pretty long corners, so the circuit is much more aggressive on tyres than Le Mans and Mugello," explains Weber. "The circuit is very asymmetric, riders stay leaned over on the right side of the tyres for long periods of time, so that's the main factor at this track -- there's a lot of stress on the right side of the rear tyre.
"There are four particularly long corners at Catalunya -- Renault, Repsol, Europcar and New Holland. These corners are very important to the lap time, especially the last two right-handers that lead onto the long main straight. The rest of the stress at Catalunya comes from the tarmac, which was new in 2005.
"Of course, the front is also important at Catalunya. There are a few downhill corner entries, though nothing like as extreme as the downhill sections at Mugello. So far our riders are very happy with our new 16 inch front, we can run quite hard compounds with this tyre.
DEVELOPMENT OF MICHELIN'S NEW CONSTRUCTION REAR SLICK
Michelin introduced new construction rear slicks at last month's Chinese GP, following input from Rossi.
"We are working primarily on stability and edge grip, and the tyres are getting better and better," explains Weber. "Valentino asked us for more stability, and the harder constructions we are developing work well for riders who use the rear tyre more aggressively. They aren't right for everyone, so as always we are working on other constructions for other riders.
"The new constructions are better when the rider is at maximum lean and already using a small amount of throttle, so he's got more corner speed and then he can use more throttle earlier because at this point of the corner the new tyre gives more stability and better grip. This is very important, especially because our riders don't have such good top speed at the moment. That's why they need good corner speed and the confidence to get use more throttle at high lean angles for a good corner exit."
MICHELIN IN SPAIN
Michelin has a big manufacturing presence in Spain. About 9000 people work for Michelin in the country, many of them at the massive Lasarte factory that manufactures the majority of Michelin motorcycle tyres used around the world. Michelin MotoGP tyres are still produced at the company's Clermont-Ferrand HQ in France.
Lap record: Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin),
1m 43.048s, 165.139km-h/102.613mph (2006)
Pole position 2006: Valentino Rossi (Camel Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin), 1'41.855