Czech: Michelin preview

Michelin Men Aim To Keep Brno Crown Michelin riders have won 13 of 16 GPs at this challenging track Troy Bayliss talks about Michelin's 16.5in front and rear The battle for the 2004 MotoGP World Championship recommences at Brno this weekend ...

Michelin Men Aim To Keep Brno Crown

Michelin riders have won 13 of 16 GPs at this challenging track
Troy Bayliss talks about Michelin's 16.5in front and rear

The battle for the 2004 MotoGP World Championship recommences at Brno this weekend after a four-week summer lull. Title rivals Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin), Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin) and Ma x Biaggi (Honda Camel Pons RC211V-Michelin) know that Brno will be a crucial race because whoever gains the upper hand here will go into the final six races with a useful psychological advantage.

Although Rossi, Gibernau and Biaggi are the main title contenders, there are plenty of other riders in with a chance of victory on Sunday, not least the revitalised Colin Edwards (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin), who scored his first MotoGP podi um in Britain last month and Troy Bayliss (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici GP4-Michelin), back on the pace after a sluggish start to the season.

Like most MotoGP events, Brno has long been dominated by Michelin riders. All but three of the 16 premier-class races run at the awesome, undulating circuit have been won by riders using the French company's tyres. Last year all but one of the 15 points-sc oring riders at Brno ran Michelin. And Michelin are similarly dominant this season, currently holding the top nine positions in the World Championship points chase.

MICHELIN RIDER TROY BAYLISS AND BRNO Troy Bayliss commenced his MotoGP career last year and was an instant hit, gaining a reputation for fearsome riding and impressive speed. The former World Superbike champion had his best ride of the season at Brno last August, leading Rossi and Gibernau fo r more than half the race and eventually finishing third, just 0.6 seconds adrift of winner Rossi.

And Bayliss is confident he can be in the hunt for Czech GP victory once again this weekend. Although the Aussie has yet to score a podium finish this year he is back on the pace after recent improvements to his Desmosedici GP4, most notably a revised firi ng order motor, christened the Twin Pulse by Ducati Corse. This engine uses revised intervals to produce horsepower that is more rider-friendly and more tyre-friendly.

SECRETS OF THE TWIN PULSE-- "The Twin Pulse makes the bike more stable because it's smoother on the gas, so it feels like it's got more traction and it has got more traction," explains Bayliss. "When we first tested it I did good lap times after 18 laps on the same rear Michelin, and the tyre was cooler and looked better than another Michelin we'd used with the old Four Pulse motor. The Twin Pulse is easier to ride and that's what it's all about -- making the bike comfortable to ride, so you can make the lap times easier without going too much above yourself."

Although the Twin Pulse makes fractionally less horsepower than the old Four Pulse, Bayliss is confident the motor will give him what he needs at Brno, one of the fastest racetracks in MotoGP.

"I liked the place pretty much straight away when I first tested there last year," says Bayliss. "We got the bike working good and last year's Brno race was probably my best of 2003 because I finished so close to the front. I left the place really happy, s o I can't wait to get back there with the Twin Pulse.

BRNO IS LIKE PHILLIP ISLAND-- "Brno is pretty fast and very wide, with a few corners you can't really see until you're on them. I guess you could say it's a little like Phillip Island because it's flowing, so it keeps the bikes together and makes for good r acing. There's a few tracks where you've got to have a lot of confidence in the front, and this is one of them because there's a lot of negative camber turns."

Despite Brno's tricky corners Bayliss is also confident that Michelin's new-for-2004 MotoGP tyres -- the 16.5in front and new-profile 16.5in rear -- will give him what he needs.

MICHELIN'S 16.5 FRONT AND REAR-- "The 16.5 front should be good," he adds. "We were Michelin's last team in MotoGP to start using the 16.5 and although it took us a little while to get the bike to work with the tyre I really like it now; I can go out and st raight away feel confident, which is what you want. To me the 16.5 gives better mid-corner speed and more feel. Once you get the bike on its side you get more feel and it finishes off the corner better, plus it makes it easier to change direction. The rear also gives more grip. Sometimes it gives so much grip that you push the front, so we've got to work on the front set-up a little more.

"There are also a lot of second-gear corners at Brno but overall it's pretty fast. The whole track is important but the most important places are the exit from final turn onto the start-finish, plus the sharp right at the bottom of the hill and the run bac k up towards the finish. Speed is important at Brno and although we were up on speed against the other bikes last year, everyone's more even now."

MICHELIN AND THE CHALLENGE OF BRNO Michelin aims to extend its unbeaten run of eight Brno premier-class victories this weekend. The French company has dominated at this technically challenging circuit ever since Brno hosted its first World Championship GP in 1987. The epic Czech venue, whic h runs across forested hillsides, features numerous off-camber turns which ask a lot of riders, bikes and tyres. The circuit is also quite bumpy and slippery, which can cause 'chatter' if riders don't find the correct combination of suspension settings and tyre choice.

AVOIDING CHATTER-- "Brno isn't particularly demanding on tyres," reveals Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcycling competitions. "But this is one track where riders and their engineers need to work carefully on set-up to avoid getting chatter, which can occur due to the bumpy surface and high loads imposed by some of the steep corner entries. In fact the bumps are more like ripples and the surface is also quite slippery because it hasn't been resurfaced for many years.

THE FRONT IS CRUCIAL AT BRNO-- "Brno is also one of the few tracks where front-tyre choice is just as crucial as rear-tyre choice, again because of the off-camber corner entries. In this respect it's rather like Mugello. Most riders go for a fairly stiff fr ont-tyre construction to ride the downhill bumps, but the front still gets a hard time because riders have to deal with the tyre 'tucking' into those off-camber corners. We think our 16.5in front should prove advantageous to riders, not only because it off ers more grip into and through turns, but also because it allows riders to change direction more quickly and there are plenty of direction changes at Brno.

"The rear doesn't get such a hard time at Brno, probably because this is more of a momentum track than a point-and-squirt circuit. Brno is also very symmetrical, with a similar number of right-handers and left-handers, which helps to create uniform tyre we ar."


Lap record: Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda RC211V-Michelin), 1m 59.966s, 162.135kmh/100.746mph (2003) 2003 pole position: Rossi, 1m 58.769s


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