The MotoGP circus continues its high-speed progress across the Continent with this weekend's Catalan Grand Prix, the second of a quick-fire run of four European races over five weekends. Catalunya follows hot on the heels of last week's packed-out...
The MotoGP circus continues its high-speed progress across the Continent with this weekend's Catalan Grand Prix, the second of a quick-fire run of four European races over five weekends. Catalunya follows hot on the heels of last week's packed-out Italian GP and precedes the British and Dutch rounds which take the 2008 MotoGP World Championship beyond its halfway point.
With six rounds done and 12 still to go, Michelin riders hold three of the top five positions in the MotoGP points standings, the company's Spanish stars Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V-Michelin) and Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) currently second and third overall and American Colin Edwards (Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin) in fifth place. This weekend the eyes of Spain will be on Pedrosa and Lorenzo, who have already won races this year, as they aim for further access at Catalunya.
Pedrosa is already showing his usual awesome consistency with five podium results from the first six races. Rookie Lorenzo has dazzled with his speed, though he's been carrying ankle injuries since last month's Chinese GP. Both riders have tasted success in the smaller categories at Catalunya and are undoubtedly capable of winning again in the class of kings.
"Catalunya will be an exciting weekend for us, with lots of fans there and Spain's top two MotoGP riders using our tyres," said Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's chief of motorcycle racing. "Catalunya is an interesting track with quite good grip. Its main feature from a tyre point of view is its long corners, like the Renault and Repsol turns and the final two corners, which require riders to spend a lot of time at maximum angle, which puts a lot of stress into both the front and rear tyres. Riders also want to open the throttle as early as possible in these long corners, so they need good traction and good stability from the tyres throughout the race. The track demands medium to medium hard tyres, slightly harder than Mugello and Le Mans because of the extra stress.
"We hope to see good performances from all our riders and it was good to see that many of our guys were able to ride strong races at Mugello last weekend. Dani finished on the podium again, Jorge unluckily slid off, while Colin Edwards (Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin), James Toseland (Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin) and Andrea Dovizioso, (JiR Team Scot Honda RC212V-Michelin) were all in the battle for fifth place.
"This weekend Dani will again have the new front which he liked during the post-French GP tests at Le Mans. The tyre wasn't the right race choice for Mugello so we hope it's better suited to Catalunya. It has a slightly stiffer construction for improved braking performance which is another important factor at this track.
"This is the busiest time of the year for everyone involved in MotoGP. From a logistical point of view it's a real challenge to get all the tyres made for these races, to get them to the tracks and to transfer them from one track to another. For this weekend's race some of the tyres have come from Mugello, while others have come from Clermont-Ferrand, including one rear tyre choice we made after Mugello, using data learned there."
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 Lasarte factory that manufactures the majority of Michelin motorcycle tyres. Michelin MotoGP tyres are still produced at the company's Clermont-Ferrand HQ in France.