Michelin appoints new director

MICHELIN APPOINTS NEW DIRECTOR OF MOTORCYCLE RACING Michelin has appointed a new director of its motorcycle racing activities. Jean-Philippe Weber will take over the position from Nicolas Goubert at the end of the 2006 MotoGP season. The ...

MICHELIN APPOINTS NEW DIRECTOR OF MOTORCYCLE RACING

Michelin has appointed a new director of its motorcycle racing activities. Jean-Philippe Weber will take over the position from Nicolas Goubert at the end of the 2006 MotoGP season.

The appointment comes at a crucial moment for the renowned French tyre brand, with MotoGP switching to 800cc machines for the 2007 World Championship and the company withdrawing from Formula One at the end of this season. MotoGP is thus set to become an even bigger part of Michelin's global presence.

"I am happy, honoured and humble to take over from Nicolas," says Weber, whose background is in chemical engineering. "I have been working with him and his team for several years, so I already know that it is very exciting to work with Michelin's MotoGP crew and with the company's partners. The results have been very impressive for many years, so it is a big challenge to maintain that success and to continue developing technology through competition."

Goubert, who has been with Michelin since 1988 and has run its motorcycle racing activities since 1997, will continue to grow his career with the company in a position to be announced shortly. "I've had a great time, meeting and working with some amazing people," says Goubert, who has presided over a period of unprecedented success. "This job has been my passion but I need a new challenge. My future is with Michelin, although it will be difficult to work in anything as fascinating and rewarding as MotoGP."

Weber, a keen street and off-road rider, began working on Michelin motorcycle race tyres in 2001, focusing on MotoGP, Superbike and Supermotard. As a richly qualified chemist (with a doctorate in organic chemistry), his initial involvement was with compounds, though he soon began working on all aspects of tyre development. His new job takes him from behind the scenes to a new position in the public eye. "This is my dream job because motorcycles are my life," he adds. "I own several streetbikes and dirt bikes but if I had 200 motorcycles I would still want some more!"

Michelin motorsport director Frederic Henry-Biabaud acknowledges that Weber's appointment comes at a fascinating moment for Michelin's motorpsort department. "We wish Jean-Philippe all the best in his new role and we know that we will be able to give Nicolas the new challenge he is looking for," he says. "MotoGP will become an even bigger part of our strategy now that the Michelin Group is leaving F1 to focus on MotoGP, Endurance car racing and in WRC with the BFGoodrich brand." There are three key factors in our involvement in MotoGP:

- First, its profile is very big and getting bigger, so the return on our investment is excellent. Also its visibility goes far beyond the world of motorcycling, which means it benefits Michelin as a whole. And it is a very challenging, very competitive discipline with some real heroes.

- Second, its link to our business is absolutely crucial. At a MotoGP race all the fans know what tyres they've got on their bikes, so in MotoGP you are always talking to your end customer. Also, MotoGP gives us a very strong link to our technical partners who use our tyres as OE equipment on their customer machines.

- Third, the technical relationships between MotoGP and streetbikes is very close, much closer than in most other motorsports, so there is a direct link between our MotoGP tyres and our street tyres.

Michelin has won more of 300 of 500 and MotoGP victories, plus 25 of the last 30 premier-class World Championships, including a clean sweep of the last 14 crowns. Its race win rate over the past decade stands at around 95 per cent.

-credit: www.michelinsport.com

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Series MotoGP