"We know Laguna will be a big challenge because this year's pace is even faster than last year's, so the stress on the tyres will be high," says Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's chief of motorcycle racing. "Last year the grip level at Laguna was ...
"We know Laguna will be a big challenge because this year's pace is even faster than last year's, so the stress on the tyres will be high," says Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's chief of motorcycle racing. "Last year the grip level at Laguna was very high, different to all the other tracks, so much so that there wasn't much of a difference in lap times with race tyres and qualifying tyres, both for us and for our competitors.
"Last year there was no chance to test the new surface before the race and the new asphalt was very aggressive on tyres. We had to use the hardest compounds we had which still weren't hard enough, so we suffered from a lack of performance. Therefore the compounds we will use this year will be much harder.
"Of course, we don't know exactly how Laguna's grip characteristics have changed since we were last there, but we expect the surface will still be a demanding, though probably slightly less so. The circuit gets used quite a lot for driving schools and so on, but there's not so much top-level motorsport there due to local noise restrictions.
"In some ways the track is quite similar to the Sachsenring because it is tight and undulating. The constructions we use are similar to the Sachsenring but due to the aggressive surface the compounds are harder. I would say that the left side of the tyres get a similar amount of stress as the right side gets at Catalunya. The track's up-and-down nature also affects tyre compounds because the uphill sections mean more stress for the 20rear and the downhill sections more stress for the front. The track isn't so demanding on the right side, the track is asymmetric, but not as asymmetric as the Sachsenring. Laguna isn't as tough as Sachsenring for the front tyre but it's tougher than Catalunya.
"Traction is really important at Laguna, like everywhere now. Recent developments in machinery allow riders to open the throttle quite wide even when they are at full lean. This is due to development of the bikes and the electronics, so our job is to give our riders as much acceleration traction as possible, even at maximum angle.
"After Laguna we get a bit of a summer break but the work goes on at Michelin. I don't think the tyre manufacturers ever stop working. After the next race in the Czech Republic there's an important test session at Brno, so we have to prepare for that as well as for the Brno race."