SHANGHAI'S SPECIAL CHALLENGE FOR MICHELIN MEN Michelin ready for Chinese track that stresses centre section of tyres The MotoGP circus heads to the Far East for the first time this year with Michelin riders holding the joint World Championship...
SHANGHAI'S SPECIAL CHALLENGE FOR MICHELIN MEN
Michelin ready for Chinese track that stresses centre section of tyres
The MotoGP circus heads to the Far East for the first time this year with Michelin riders holding the joint World Championship lead after winning the last two races. Dazzling MotoGP rookie Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) scored his debut premier-class win at Estoril to go equal on points with Jerez winner Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V-Michelin). Another of Michelin's amazing MotoGP rookies, reigning World Superbike champion James Toseland (Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin) is fifth in the points chase. Michelin men have scored three pole positions, two victories and six podium finishes from the first three races.
Shanghai is a special challenge for riders and technicians, because the track features MotoGP's longest, fastest straight and some ultra-heavy braking. The centre sections of the front and rear tyre therefore have to withstand higher-than-usual stresses and heat build-up.
MICHELIN & THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE OF SHANGHAI
"We have already gathered some important data from the different tracks at the first three races which is helping us to continue the optimisation of our 2008 tyres," says Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. "Like Estoril, Shanghai will be another big challenge because there's been no testing there. But based on the information we have, we should be able to offer a range of tyres that are well suited to the track's requirements.
"Shanghai is a lot less asymmetric than Estoril. The centre of the tyre is also a big consideration at Shanghai because there are two very fast straights, including the back straight which is MotoGP's quickest, and then some very heavy braking, especially into the very tight hairpin at the end of the back straight. So you need a strong front construction/compound to withstand the braking forces, that's one issue we have to work on. Of course, we already have a lot of good data for this, especially since we've already raced at Shanghai with the 990s, which were even faster than the 800s in a straight line.
"The rear tyre also has a hard time at Shanghai because there's a lot of stress on the straights, and there are also several very long corners which also stress the tyre, so again you need a harder than normal tyre.
"At the same time we have to be aware of the changeable weather conditions in the region at this time of year. We had a very wet race when we first came here in 2005 and it seems it can be quite cool or quite hot, so the range of tyres we offer has to take this into account.
"We did some very useful tests with our partners at Estoril after the Portuguese GP. We may put one new compound and one new construction that our riders tried during these tests into our range of tyres at Shanghai."
"We know Shanghai won't be easy. Last year we used our new, stiffer construction rears for the first time at this race and Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha YZR-M1-Michelin) was able to fight with Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici) even though the Ducati was very fast in a straight line. This year the speed differential isn't so great, but it will still be a tough race. We are looking forward to it."
MICHELIN IN CHINA
China is the world's biggest manufacturer and consumer of powered two-wheelers, so it's no surprise that Michelin has a major presence in the country. Michelin China employs more than 5,500 employees and invests USD 200M in Shanghai Michelin Warrior Tire Co Ltd, which manufactures Michelin and Warrior Tyres. Michelin also has an R&D centre in Shanghai.