Oschersleben: Michelin preview

Bayliss leads Edwards by 39 points With three rounds left (Oschersleben, Assen and Imola), Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin) continues to lead the 2002 world superbike championship. Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda-Michelin) is second and ...

Bayliss leads Edwards by 39 points

With three rounds left (Oschersleben, Assen and Imola), Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin) continues to lead the 2002 world superbike championship. Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda-Michelin) is second and 39 points down on Bayliss. In third place, Neil Hodgson (HM Plant Ducati) trails Bayliss by 184 points. The world title is thus set to go the way the season has gone: a straight fight between Bayliss and Edwards. Bayliss has looked extremely strong this year - after the first leg at Laguna Seca, he'd stretched out a 56 point lead over his rival, the largest this season. But Edwards has since clawed that back a little and with 25 points up for grabs at each race, he can still hope to defeat Ducati strongman.

Edwards looking for win number four.

Colin Edwards is on a high. He's unbeaten since Laguna Seca, where he began a three race winning streak by taking the second leg. During the summer, he also took time out to win the prestigious Suzuka 8 Hours endurance event, where he rode a Cabin Michelin Honda alongside Grand Prix ace Daijiro Kato. Just before that, Edwards had given the Castrol Honda world superbike team it's first double of the year at Brands Hatch. "I knew a win was possible but then I made a mess of the start," recalls Edwards. "I dug deep and managed to get ahead pretty early in the race. Once in front I just watched the pit board and tried to keep the gap at about one second. It was a tough race in hot conditions and for 25 laps all I could hear was 100,000 screaming fans. We'd hardly changed a thing on the SP-2 since getting to Brands on the Thursday before the race and once again, Michelin did a great job with the tyres."

The Suzuka win was a nice bonus for Edwards, who took advantage of the world superbike championship's summer break to race in Japan. Michelin has won 14 of the last 19 Suzuka 8 Hour races. "This win is more special than my two previous 8 Hour wins because we had a drama at the last stage," admits Edwards, who also won last year on a Michelin equipped Honda VTR 1000 SP-2 he shared with 2001 World 500cc Grand Prix champion Valentino Rossi. "When it started to rain, I prayed for it not to rain any harder. I was ready in the pit with my leathers on so that in case it rained harder, I could ride again. But the rain stopped after a few laps and Daijiro rode brilliantly. I want to thank him for the win."

Bayliss still set to get into the record books.

Bayliss has won 14 races this year, yet the record for the highest number of wins in a single superbike season still eludes him. Doug Polen, who obliterated the competition in 1991 on a Ducati, holds it with 17 wins that year. But with six races left Bayliss could beat the American. Brands Hatch was a difficult race for Bayliss, who had a big crash during practice and did well to leave England with a 3rd and a 2nd. "I'd rather be first but that's racing and you've got to take the good with the bad," said a disappointed Bayliss at Brands. "Everything was going well until I knew I couldn't do any better but there was no use banging my head against the wall for a better result. I can't say I've enjoyed this weekend, I was really sore at Laguna and I'm really sore here. I had that crash on Saturday and didn't think I was going to do any good here but now I can have a month off and get fit again for the last three races".

On top of that welcome vacation time, Bayliss can also hope for some help from teammate Ruben Xaus (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin) in Germany. It was here, last year, that Xaus won his first world superbike race in the second leg, after an encouraging 2nd behind Edwards in the first race.

Since the start of the world superbike championship in 1988, Michelin riders have won 246 of the 361 races (68%) and 9 out of 13 world title.

This year alone, Michelin has taken 19 of a possible 20 wins and taken all three podium places eight times for a total of 44 out of 60 possible podium positions this year (73%).

Michelin and its German partners

Michelin is the partner of choice for most of the major german car manufacturers. In Formula 1, Michelin supplies its state-of-the-art tyres to the BMW Williams F1 team and the West McLaren Mercedes team. Michelin is also a record-holder in the world famous Le Mans 24 Hour car race after having won the 2000, 2001 and 2002 events with Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro driving the Audi R8 that are also winning races and championships in the American Le Mans Series.

This year, Michelin is now the official tyre supplier for Porsche's motosport division. That includes support for the fastest single make series, the Porsche Michelin Supercup run alongside F1 GPs.

Porsche and Michelin also won the LM GT class at this year's Le Mans 24 hours with Buckler, Luhr and Bernhard.

Oschersleben and tyres

"To us, Oschersleben is the same kind of circuit as Lausitzring or Kyalami," explains Michelin competitions chief Nicolas Goubert. "We've had two good years here so fingers crossed, we hope to do well this year as well. It's a slow twisty track which doesn't work the tyres hard enough to give us any heat problems. So we use tyres with a fairly standard construction here."

Troy Bayliss : "Oschersleben is not too bad, very similar to Valencia. The spectators can sit up in the grandstands and check it all out. It's just some tight little difficult circuit. But I don't really mind where we go: the tracks I haven't had much success on, I want to improve on, and the ones I have done well on, I want to do better at. I don't really have a favourite track. I like all the circuits we go to. You just want to get the most of the track. It's a challenge, anywhere you go."

Colin Edwards: "It's good. It's a bit rough in places. It doesn't really stand out, there is nothing really I would say special about it like there is at Laguna or Phillip Island or places like that. But I have won here and I enjoy it."

Ruben Xaus: "I like this place. I rode the best race of my life here last year. For me and for Michelin it was just the perfect race."

The Oschersleben circuit is 3 667 meters (2.285 miles) long and between 11 and 13 meters wide. It is a clockwise track with 14 turns, 7 left-handers and 7 right-handers. The longest straight is 680 meters long. The grandstands are in a stadium configuration and more than half the track is visible from around 70% of seats. Runoff area is sufficiently generous to ensure rider safety while spectator safety is obtained by seating them high up (from 6 to 8 meters).Opened in 1997, Motopark Oschersleben is located south-west of Magdeburg and about 150 km from Berlin. Three million cubic meters of dirt was moved to build the circuit. The pit area has 29 garages built on a 280 meter long section of the pit/paddock area.

Oschersleben offers a balanced layout, with an equal number of left and right-hand turns which are, for the most part, not very fast. There are no long straights which explains why, upon their first visit, the World Superbike riders expected overtaking to be difficult. As it turns out, this hasn't been too much of a problem.

According to Jean Hérissé, Michelin's Superbike manager: "The surface doesn't have a lot of grip which means we have to use tyres which can help us make the best use of what grip there is and that those riders who don't make the right tyre choice may face endurance problems." With front-end grip being very important at this circuit, compound choices tend to be medium-soft on the rear and medium-hard for the front.

Michelin and Oschersleben

Michelin brings a total of 600 tires (400 rears and 200 fronts), wet and dry, for this race. Sizes are 19 / 67-420 (16,5 inch) for rear slicks, rain tires and intermediates. Front tire sizes are 12/60-420 (16.5 inch) tires.Michelin's on-site personnel includes one team manager, two technicians, four tire fitters and one press officer.Oschersleben stats

12th round of the Superbike World Championship: September 8 at Assen (Holland)


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About this article
Series World Superbike
Drivers Tom Kristensen , Frank Biela , Valentino Rossi , Troy Bayliss , Colin Edwards , Neil Hodgson , Ruben Xaus , Emanuele Pirro , Phillip Island
Teams Williams