THE SACHSENRING - WHERE EDGE GRIP IS CRUCIAL Michelin riders have won all eight premier-class races held at the Sachsenring since 1998 and they also dominated at the German GP's previous homes, the Nurburgring and Hockenheim, where they won all...
THE SACHSENRING - WHERE EDGE GRIP IS CRUCIAL
Michelin riders have won all eight premier-class races held at the Sachsenring since 1998 and they also dominated at the German GP's previous homes, the Nurburgring and Hockenheim, where they won all but one of seven events from 1991 to 1997.
The Sachsenring may be one of MotoGP's slower circuits (only Estoril, Laguna Seca and Valencia are slower) but the undulating anti-clockwise venue features one of MotoGP's fastest, most dramatic corners. Turn 12 is epic: a blind, high-speed, adverse-camber right-hander that is attacked in fifth gear at well over 200km/h, a real test of riders' skill, bravery and commitment.
Michelin riders go into the German GP aiming for their ninth win of the season. So far they have scored eight wins from the first nine races and 23 podium places from a possible 27. They also fill eight of the top nine positions in the current World Championship point standings led by Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin), Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin), Valentino Rossi (Camel Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) and Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda RC211V- Michelin).
MICHELIN'S RESPONSE TO THE CHALLENGE OF THE SACHSENRING
"The Sachsenring is a low -speed edge grip circuit," says Michelin's motorcycle racing director Nicolas Goubert. "It is the only place where the 250s could lap faster than the 500s. That was a few years ago, around the original short circuit, but that track wasn't so dissimilar to the current layout.
"For sure it's not one of our favourite circuits because it is pretty slow, it's a bit of a shame to see 250 horsepower motorcycles riding around what resembles a go-kart track! But the Sachsenring does feature some fast, interesting corners and is quite challenging for us. The circuit is fairly demanding on tyres because the bikes spend a lot of time leaned over through all the long corners, so it demands a lot from the edge of the tyres. That is what makes the Sachsenring different - traction is important here but not as important as edge grip. The rear gets the biggest workout, the layout isn't so tough on front tyres because there isn't much heavy braking or trail-braking into corners. There are one or two heavy braking zones, but the top speeds are low.
"The circuit is also quite asymmetric with ten left-handers and only four rights. It is similar in that respect to Valencia and Phillip Island which are also anti-clockwise circuits, though Valencia and Phillip Island are more asymmetric than Sachsenring. The other two particularly asymmetric tracks we go to are Estoril and Shanghai. Even though the Sachsenring's many left-handers put a lot of heat into the tyres it isn't a really high-wear circuit. I would say it's a medium circuit for tyre wear.
"We never expect lap speeds to increase dramatically at this track, even though the extra edge grip offered by our 2006 rear slick should help. The layout makes it difficult to get big improvements in lap times because the many left-handers work the left side of the tyres so hard, plus most of the corners interlink, so improving speed out of the corners doesn't win you a lot of time down the next straights, as is the case at many racetracks.
"Rain is always a possibility at this race but the fact that the track is very undulating means that it drains quite well, so you don't get large areas of deep standing water."