Qatari GP: Michelin preview

MICHELIN READY FOR MotoGP's DESERT RACE Michelin's MotoGP crew travels to Qatar for round two of the 2006 MotoGP World Championship aiming for its first victory. At Losail all eyes will be on Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team...

MICHELIN READY FOR MotoGP's DESERT RACE

Michelin's MotoGP crew travels to Qatar for round two of the 2006 MotoGP World Championship aiming for its first victory. At Losail all eyes will be on Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin), who sensationally challenged for victory in his MotoGP debut in Spain, and reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi (Camel Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin), who is now 23 points behind the series lead after getting knocked down at the first corner at Jerez.

MICHELIN'S RESPONSE TO THE CHALLENGE OF QATAR

Michelin riders ruled the first two Qatar GPs, filling the first seven finishing places in 2004 and the first five positions last year. This year's race is expected to offer a slightly different challenge because the event has been moved from October to April.

"We hope conditions will be cooler than they were on our last two visits," says Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. "We tested with Yamaha during February and it was less than 30 degrees, much nicer conditions than the extreme heat we had experienced before. Both Valentino Rossi (Camel Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) and Colin Edwards (Camel Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) lapped inside the record because the circuit was cool and clean but will we be able to go as fast this weekend? It all depends on track conditions and temperature.

"We know Losail can hold some surprises. You may have everything under control, and then a sandstorm changes everything. There's not much you can do if the track is covered in sand. Not only does sand reduce grip it also accelerates tyre wear. >From a layout point of view, Losail is a medium-wear circuit for the rear. The front tyre isn't a major issue, there are no downhill sections or big braking areas.

"We are very happy with our 2006 rear slick, which continues our usual MotoGP concept, creating a larger footprint to give the riders more edge grip and traction. If race-day conditions are at least equal to last year's conditions we're pretty confident we can beat the race record. But this is only the second race, so we are still learning. You never quite know where you stand at the first few races, which is quite fun, quite exciting for us! Jerez didn't offer us any firm conclusions about the performance of our 2006 tyres because the track was much less grippy than last year, that's why the race was 14 seconds slower."

Lap record-holder Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) agrees with Goubert's assessment of Losail. "It's not that hard on tyres once the track is clean," says the American. "You need good grip, of course, especially through that long left-hander (turns 10 and 11), where you can make a lot of time if you've got good traction. The big thing is that the track is usually so dirty on the first day that front tyres don't last long, so it's hard to get the bike set up."

MICHELIN IN QATAR

Michelin tyres are distributed in Qatar by Ebrahim Khalil Kanoo, a long-established Bahrain-based company with extensive automotive interests. The techno-commercial support from Michelin is covered by one technical commercial manager who shuttles between the nations of Qatar and Bahrain.

-michelin-

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Valentino Rossi , Dani Pedrosa
Teams Repsol Honda Team