Laguna Seca: Michelin preview

Hodgson and Xaus lead the championship Neil Hodgson (Ducati Fila-Michelin) comes to Laguna Seca with 315 world championship points. His team-mate Ruben Xaus (Ducati Fila-Michelin) is second in the standings on 208 points. The Spaniard won both...

Hodgson and Xaus lead the championship

Neil Hodgson (Ducati Fila-Michelin) comes to Laguna Seca with 315 world championship points. His team-mate Ruben Xaus (Ducati Fila-Michelin) is second in the standings on 208 points. The Spaniard won both races at the last round, in Misano, and took the ch ampionship runner-up spot from James Toseland, now third on 185 points. "It's a great result for Ducati " said Ducati Corse Managing Director Claudio Domenicali after Misano. "Ducati wishes to thank its technical partners, including Michelin and Shell, for their excellent support. On the track, our two riders did the rest". Hodgson was 2nd in race two and left Misano disappointed but determined as ever. "I feel frustrated not to have won but I know I gave my best out there," he said. "Finishing second only motivates me to train harder and go faster."

Troy Corser (Foggy Petronas Racing-Michelin) gave his team something to smile about at Misano with two encouraging races. "Troy has promised us he will win races on the FP1 if we can find him some extra power," said team boss Nigel Bosworth. "We feel like we are fighting again and hopefully we can maintain this progress for the rest of the season."

Since the start of the world Superbike championship in 1988, Michelin riders have won 261 races out of 377 and taken 11 out of 15 world titles. Michelin won 25 races out of 26 in 2002 and 13 out of 14 races this year.

Team USA won the Michelin Nations' Cup

Last November, in Gran Canaria, Colin Edwards, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson claimed a superb victory in the fourth Michelin Race of Champions Nations' Cup. "Admittedly, this is a big surprise but it feels great," said an ecstatic Jimmie Johnson afterward s. "We came here wanting to win, and to have some fun, and we had both. It's a truly awesome feeling."

American riders and Michelin: a long-lasting partnership.

Michelin has worked with many of the American greats:

1988: Fred Merkel (Honda Rumi-Michelin)
1997: John Kocinski (Castrol Honda-Michelin)
2000: Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda-Michelin)
2002: Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda-Michelin)

Grands Prix:
1983: 500: Freddie Spencer (Honda-Michelin)
1985: 250: Freddie Spencer (Honda-Michelin)
500: Freddie Spencer (Honda-Michelin)
1986: 500: Eddie Lawson (Yamaha-Michelin)
1988: 500: Eddie Lawson (Yamaha-Michelin)
1989: 500: Eddie Lawson (Honda-Michelin)
1990: 250: John Kocinski (Yamaha-Michelin)
500: Wayne Rainey (Yamaha-Michelin)
1992: 500: Wayne Rainey (Yamaha-Michelin)
1993: 500: Kevin Schwantz (Suzuki-Michelin)
2000: 500: Kenny Roberts (Suzuki-Michelin)

26,500 people work for Michelin North America in 23 plants and 19 distribution centres. Michelin NA headquarters are in Greenville, South Carolina .

Laguna Seca and tires

"Laguna is a hard place for us because we don't go there very often," says Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's motorcycling competitions chief. "We haven't been back there since last year's 2002 world Superbike race." For Michelin, part of the challenge at Laguna Seca is the local knowledge other manufacturers enjoy there and the number of riders using other brands of tires. Most of the top American Superbike teams use Dunlop products. Dunlop riders clock many more test miles in America than the Michelin men do and also have the advantage of racing at Laguna Seca during the American Superbike round held there. With a limited number of riders using Michelin tires in America, development is not as brisk as it could be.

Laguna Seca Raceway was built in 1957 by SCRAMP, acronym for the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula. A very difficult circuit, this track is a real challenge for tire manufacturers. Laguna Seca has many types of corners, very slow ones like Turn 2, an 80 kph left hander, and much faster ones. The section after the infamous Corkscrew is special because it's all downhill. Laguna Seca is a hilly circuit with a maximum downhill slope of 30%. In 1988, the length of the track was increased fr om 2,9 km to 3,6 km (1,9 miles to 2,2 miles) to ensure world championship homologation. Laguna Seca hosted GPs from 1988 to 1994 and has been a World Superbike venue since 1995.

Laguna Seca is in California, 185 km south of San Francisco and 480 km north of Los Angeles. It's about 15 km east of Monterey, near Carmel and Pebble Beach.

Michelin and Silverstone

Michelin brings a total of 500 tyres (340 rears and 160 fronts), wet and dry, for this race. Sizes are 19 / 67-420 (16,5 inch) for rear slicks, rain tyres and intermediates. Front tyre sizes are 12/60-420 (16.5 inch) tyres.

Michelin's on-site personnel includes one team manager and two tyre fitters.

Laguna Seca stats.

Official practice record (2002)
1'24.833, Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin), 153,195 km/h average speed

Superpole record (2002)
1'24.888, Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda-Michelin) 153,096 km/h average speed

Fastest lap (best race lap 1999)
1'25.185, Anthony Gobert (Vance & Hines Ducati) 152,560 km/h average speed

9th round of the Superbike World Championship: July 27th at Brands Hatch (United Kingdom)

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About this article
Series World Superbike
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Anthony Gobert , Kevin Schwantz , Jimmie Johnson , Troy Bayliss , Colin Edwards , Kenny Roberts Jr. , Neil Hodgson , Ruben Xaus , James Toseland , Wayne Rainey , Eddie Lawson , Troy Corser , Freddie Spencer , Fred Merkel