MICHELIN AIMS FOR 15th MUGELLO VICTORY The 2006 MotoGP World Championship reaches one-third distance at Mugello, one of the most popular events on the Grand Prix calendar. For many fans this is the perfect MotoGP venue - a high- speed track...
MICHELIN AIMS FOR 15th MUGELLO VICTORY
The 2006 MotoGP World Championship reaches one-third distance at Mugello, one of the most popular events on the Grand Prix calendar. For many fans this is the perfect MotoGP venue - a high- speed track in one of Europe's prettiest regions. And Mugello is just as popular with competitors because it is a challenging circuit, demanding much from riders and engineers, bikes and tyres. No wonder then that Michelin has won 14 of the 15 premier-class GPs staged at the track since 1976, including a clean sweep of all 11 races since Mugello became the Italian GP's full-time home in 1994.
Current points leader Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) goes to Mugello still chasing his first victory of the year while reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi (Camel Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) badly needs to win his fifth straight Mugello victory to put himself back in the title hunt after a recent run of bad luck.
Michelin riders are in dominant form at the moment, with four of the first five races won by Michelin men and eight of the current top ten points scorers on Michelin tyres.
MICHELIN'S RESPONSE TO THE CHALLENGE OF MUGELLO
"Mugello is a nice racetrack, one of our favourites, along with Phillip Island," says Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. "For me, a great track needs a bit of everything - fast corners, heavy braking areas, flowing sections and ups and downs, to add an extra dimension. And it always helps if the track is in a beautiful location, like Mugello or Phillip Island.
"Mugello isn't one of the hardest tracks from a tyre point of view. The challenging tracks for tyre makers are usually those with a very specialised character, for example Phillip Island, which is very asymmetric with long corners that put so much heat into one side of the tyres. We use medium- compound and medium-carcass tyres at Mugello, because although the track does build quite a lot of heat into the tyres neither side is in contact with the tarmac for too long because the layout is rather symmetric, which means you don't get huge heat build-ups. But if Mugello isn't particularly tough on tyres it definitely is challenging for bike set-up and for riders.
"Edge grip is important at Mugello, especially through the long final corner. This is one of the most important final corners in racing, because it precedes such a long and fast main straight. You need good edge grip through here, which is what our 2006 rear slick offers with its bigger footprint.
"We think our bigger profile front slick will offer real advantages at Mugello because one of the secrets to this track is getting into the downhill corners as fast as possible, and the larger contact patch of our bigger front should help here. We optimised the profile of this tyre to give maximum footprint where you're really using the brakes going into corners. But like everything in racing, it's a compromise, when you improve one aspect of performance you affect something else. The bigger profile is a bit heavier, so maybe that's why one of our fastest-ever riders may prefer to stick with the narrower tyre he has used with so much success in the past!"