Michelin Suzuka 8 Hour endurance preview

Michelin aim for more Eight Hour glory Every year, the world's best riders come to Japan to ride the most technically advanced Superbikes at the Suzuka Eight Hours. The event is of paramount importance to the Japanese manufacturers and...

Michelin aim for more Eight Hour glory

Every year, the world's best riders come to Japan to ride the most technically advanced Superbikes at the Suzuka Eight Hours. The event is of paramount importance to the Japanese manufacturers and to Michelin, all of whom look forward to intense racing at this prestigious event. Past Suzuka winners include some of the greatest motorcycling champions ever and this year, as always, the entry list is as prestigious as it is impressive.

Michelin will partner the following teams: Nicky Hayden-Ryuichi Kiyonari (Seven Stars Honda VTR1000SPW-Michelin), Tohru Ukawa-Hitoyasu Izutsu (Seven Stars Honda VTR1000SPW-Michelin) and Tadayuki Okada- Chojun Kameya (Team Sakurai Honda VTR1000SPW-Michelin).

The machines that rule the Suzuka Eight Hours belong to the Superbike class. Michelin's success in the Superbike World Championship is second to none. Since the start of the championship, in 1988, Michelin riders have won 262 races out of 379 and taken 11 out of 15 world titles. Michelin won 25 races out of 26 in 2002 and 14 out of 16 races this year.

The circuit

Length: 5859 m
Number of left-hand turns: 10
Number of right-hand turns: 11
Main straight length: 1200 m
Track width: 10 to 15 m
Pole position: on the left
Number of pit boxes: 48

"Suzuka isn't that tough on tyres when the temperature is cool, though it's a very different case when we go to Suzuka for the Eight Hours race in July!" said Michelin motorcycle competitions chief Nicolas Goubert during last April's Japanese Grand Prix. "As always, our main concern is to find good grip and good feel. But in cool conditions there can be a temptation for riders to choose softer tyres to find grip, but they have to be careful not to go too soft, because that kind of tyre won't give consistently good performance over full-race distance."

"Suzuka is one of my favourite circuits; it has everything - fast corners, slow corners, heavy braking and high-speed straights, which means we have to come up with tyres with good all-round performance. Some parts of the track have been resurfaced, but the small sections of new tarmac shouldn't cause any concern."

"The Suzuka Eight Hour is a very specific race, largely because of the high track temperatures," adds Goubert. "At the hottest time of the day, between two and four in the afternoon, the track can reach 54 degrees, and our job is to provide riders with good grip and traction throughout every session."

"The 16.5 and 17in fronts and rears we'll be using this year are not dramatically different from what we used last time. We have some excellent new compounds, and construction has changed slightly, that's all. Last year our tyres were very consistent during the race, and we expect our 2003 Eight Hour tyres to be just as consistent, while allowing a slight increase in pace."

Michelin and Suzuka

Michelin brings a total of 500 tyres (250 rears and 250 fronts), wet and dry, for this race. Sizes are 19 / 67-420 (16.5in) for rear slicks, rain tyres and intermediates. Front tyre sizes are 12/60-420 (16.5in) and 12/60-17 (17in). 200 of the 250 front tyres are the GP riders' traditional choice of 17in. The remaining 50 tyres are a more specific 16.5in which Michelin are bringing for Hitoyasu Izutsu, should he decide to race the tyre during the Eight Hour.

Michelin thought:
As we travel to Suzuka once again, it is with deep feeling that everyone at Michelin remembers Daijiro Kato.

-www.michelinsport.com

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About this article
Series World Superbike
Drivers Nicky Hayden