CHAMPIONSHIP 2005 IRTA teams test, Catalunya, Spain Sunday March 20 GIBERNAU WINS FIRST PRIZE OF 2005 And Michelin's 2005 front and rear MotoGP slicks pass first test with flying colours. Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda...
CHAMPIONSHIP 2005 IRTA teams test, Catalunya, Spain Sunday March 20
GIBERNAU WINS FIRST PRIZE OF 2005 And Michelin's 2005 front and rear MotoGP slicks pass first test with flying colours.
Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin) topped today's Michelin- dominated 2005 prologue 'qualifying' session at Catalunya, winning a BMW 1Series car for his efforts.
The world number two was fastest man in the 40-minute outing, ahead of World Champion Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin), Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin), Marco Melandri (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin) and Makoto Tamada (Konica Minolta Honda RC211V-Michelin).
Michelin riders filled all but one of the top nine positions today. Gibernau's pace was impressive -- his best lap was 0.745 seconds inside his pole time at last year's Catalan GP, the improvements coming from off-season improvements to bike and tyres, as well as the fully resurfaced Catalunya track. He ended the session 0.419 seconds ahead of arch-rival Rossi and 0.656 seconds in front of Hayden.
"We're happy with that, though of course it's the racing that matters," said Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcycling competitions, looking forward to the season- opening Spanish GP on April 10.
"During the winter we've worked a bit more than usual on our qualifying tyres because we knew we needed to improve to keep a grip on pole position. Surprisingly, hardly any of our riders asked to do tests on qualifying tyres during the winter, though we've done one or two tests on qualifiers at each of the last three tests out of Europe. I think we have kept the same difference between our qualifying tyres and our race tyres as last year -- we have improved our race tyres, so we have made sure we've improved the qualifying tyres by the same amount."
Obviously the vast majority of Michelin's energy during another busy MotoGP winter has been focused on improving its dominant range of race tyres, which have won all but two of 48 MotoGP races over the past three seasons.
"Most of our work on the front tyre has been on compounds, though the construction has also changed slightly, it's a bit stronger than before," adds Goubert. "The new tyre worked pretty well during tests at Sepang, Phillip Island and Qatar but to make sure a new front is really better than the old one you need a lot of different races at different tracks. We hope we'll be able to do some long runs with the new front at Jerez next week, where we expect conditions to be warmer than here, so our riders will be convinced it's the right way to go for the first race there.
"With the rear we've worked to improve sidegrip because that's what our riders asked us to do. So we've done a lot of work on constructions and compounds and so far the latest tyres seem to work well, though of course we haven't been able to test its efficiency in all conditions just yet."
"It wasn't easy to prepare for this weekend because the track surface is new and it was difficult to predict what temperatures we'd be dealing with because last week it was freezing cold across Europe, so should we prepare to test with a track temperature of ten degrees or 30 degrees? It's been around 30 in the afternoons but we've had frost in the mornings and most riders don't start riding before 11-ish when the track temperature is maybe only 16 or 18 degrees. Obviously it will be much hotter when we come back here in June, though it's good to see that the new surface isn't as aggressive as some resurfaced tracks."