Silverstone: Michelin preview

Michelin-SBK6-Silverstone (United Kingdom) Bayliss -- 8 wins from 10 races. Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin) is on an incredible winning streak. The Superbike World Champion has taken 8 of the first 10 races of the 2002 season. That's...

Michelin-SBK6-Silverstone (United Kingdom)

Bayliss -- 8 wins from 10 races.

Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin) is on an incredible winning streak. The Superbike World Champion has taken 8 of the first 10 races of the 2002 season. That's 4 double wins in 5 rounds! His championship lead is huge. He has 224 points while Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda-Michelin), second in the current standings, has 186. Neil Hodgson (HMT Plant Ducati) follows with 131 points, then Noriyuki Haga (Aprilia) on 103 points, Ben Bostrom (Ducati) on 102 and Ruben Xaus (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin) on 96 p oints.

This weekend's Silverstone round should suit Troy Bayliss. The Australian rode in the British Superbike Championship for two years before moving up to the world stage. After finishing 8th on a GSE Racing Ducati in 1998, Bayliss stayed with the same team fo r the following year and became British Superbike champion. But Bayliss did not ride the full F1 circuit at Silverstone during his British Championship campaign, as it has never been used for bike racing.

Bayliss may be very much on top of the championship at the moment but Edwards has also been riding extremely well. He's climbed the podium 9 times out of 10! Along with Hodgson, Bayliss and Edwards are the only riders to have scored points at every race th is year, showing that consistency is just as important as skill. That's a very familiar concept for Michelin, who's riders have won 14 of the last 16 World Superbike races.

Troy Bayliss Interview

There's now quite a big points gap between you and Colin Edwards in the championship. Does that mean you're now a lot less worried about him than you were at the start of the season?

- Oh well, you know, there is still quite a way to go. I still think Colin is the strongest man in the championship. Also Neil (Hodgson) is coming quite strong. Colin is my main objective. We'll see what happens, I just keep taking all the points I can.

You've won 8 times this year. Which win was the most satisfying for you?

- What I really needed is the win in Phillip Island this year for my home crowd. But everywhere is special when I win!

How come the Ducati is so good at such a wide variety of tracks?

- We have a very good set-up for our bike now and of course I think we have the best tyres as well. The Michelins have been working absolutely perfectly and we have a solution for every problem we find and it makes it good for me and all the team.

What is your strategy for the next races?

- When we go to Silverstone, I want to do well there. I have done well there before. I want to win all the time. I always want to win. But if I can't win, I'll take the best points I can.

Silverstone and tyres

"Silverstone is a bit of a mystery as far as tyre manufacturers are concerned, even more so for us than for the others," says Nicolas Goubert, chief of Michelin's motorcycling competition department. "We don't take part in the British Superbike Championshi p but we do race the World Endurance series which stops at Silverstone the week before the Superbike race. That doesn't leave us much time but we will try to learn something there!"

Troy Bayliss: "So now we don't go to Donington, we go to Silverstone, which suits me better. I have raced twice at Silverstone before and I have had really good results. I have had four starts, three wins and one crash. So I am looking forward to Silversto ne. I think it will really suit the Ducati and also the Michelins. The facilities at Silverstone are great. It's a good circuit, even if it's not like some of the other European circuits big and smooth and wide. It's a little bit Mickey-like, stop-start, a couple of chicanes... I like both the full circuit and the national track."

Colin Edwards: "Never been there! I'm pretty excited about it: from what I hear it's fast. The only disadvantage I would say that we have is the fact that Michelin kind of go on blind when the Dunlop guys they have the championship there, so they may have some kind of a head-start situation. But for Michelin I'm confident they'll come through, it's good stuff. All the stuff we have had this year has been great."

Ruben Xaus: "I don't know the track. I hear it's very nice and very fast. I'm going to learn the lines by getting some practice on my Playstation!"

Silverstone Story

Silverstone was built on the site of a WWII RAF airfield. The first race was held there in 1948, Luigi Villoresi winning the R.A.C. Grand Prix in his Maserati. From May 13th 1950 to July 15th 2001, 35 Formula One GPs have been raced at Silverstone. Alain P rost holds the record for the biggest number of wins: 5 with Renault, McLaren, Ferrari and Williams. Silverstone also played host to the British Motorcycle Grand Prix from August 14th 1977 to August 3rd 1986. Kenny Roberts (Yamaha) won the biggest number o f 500 GPs there and Kork Ballington (Kawasaki) did the same in 250s. Both won three times while Angel Nieto won six 125 GPs (three with Minarelli and three with Garelli).

The British Racing Drivers' Club has managed Silverstone since 1951. Dr. J. D. Benjafield created the BRDC in 1920 and Sir Jackie Stewart is the current president after taking over from Ken Tyrrell in 2000. In 2001, the BRDC leased Silverstone to Octagon M otorsports Ltd for 15 years. Octogon already owns several circuits including Brands Hatch, Oulton Park, Snetterton and Cadwell Park. It also runs the World Superbike Championship.

Silverstone started life as a very high-speed circuit. In essence, it was all straights joined together by a few fast turns. Over the years, the track layout was changed to slow it down. Today there are six possible track configurations: Grand Prix (5.140 km), International (3.624 km), South (3.170 km), National (2.637 km), Stowe (1.281 km) and Rally Sprint (1.920 km). This permanent racing circuit is 15 metres wide, can accommodate up to 90,000 spectators and has 60,000 grandstand seats.

Less gravel, more asphalt.

Current F1 circuit fashion calls for doing away with gravel traps and replacing them with flat asphalt-covered run-off areas. Silverstone is no exception and has two very wide run-off areas outside of Copse and Stowe. On May 4th, during a Europcup Formula Renault race, one of the drivers who went on to finish in the top five used this to his advantage. Every lap, he went as wide as he could at Copse to build up more speed for the following straight leading to Maggots! But with bike racing, the risk is high. A faller that slides will probably end up with friction burns. If the crash sends the rider flying instead, there's a strong possibility of broken bones.

Octagon Motorsports have invested £10.6 million on works to improve spectator access which began in January, mainly in preparation for the F1 GP on July 7th. 90,000 m3 of earth has already been moved over 10 hectares to make way for 8,000 parking places ne ar the circuit's main entrance. But the major improvements are being made to the roads leading to the circuit.

Silverstone is 100 kms north of London, 25 kms south/west of Northampton, 74 kms north/west of Oxford and 5 kms west of Towcester in Northamptonshire.

-michelin-

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About this article
Series World Superbike
Drivers Jackie Stewart , Troy Bayliss , Colin Edwards , Kenny Roberts Jr. , Noriyuki Haga , Ruben Xaus , Angel Nieto , Ben Bostrom , Phillip Island
Teams Williams