Valencia (Spain) Michelin preview

Superbike World Championship Round 1 Circuit de la Communitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo (Valencia, Spain) March 11th 2001 Michelin on all fronts Michelin, one of the world's leading tyre manufacturers, boasts a longstanding, ...

Superbike World Championship

Round 1

Circuit de la Communitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo (Valencia, Spain)

March 11th 2001

Michelin on all fronts

Michelin, one of the world's leading tyre manufacturers, boasts a longstanding, across-the-board commitment to motorsport. And 2001 is no exception. The new feature of the firm's programme is of course its return to Formula 1 with partners Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport, BMW WilliamsF1, Jaguar Racing, Minardi and Prost Grand Prix. Plus, from 2002, Toyota. But Michelin is also present in World Championship Rallying, the Le Mans 24 Hours and numerous other top-level disciplines.

On two wheels, Michelin's presence is not restricted to the Superbike and Supersport World Championships but also includes 500cc Grand Prix motorcycling, Motocross, the World and American Supercross Championships (notably with Suzuki and KTM, plus riders of the calibre of Travis Pastrana), Enduro, Trials and Desert Raids, both at world and national level.

Michelin's Superbike record includes nine world titles from the thirteen awarded since the championship was created in 1988. Past champions on Michelin tyres are Fred Merkel (Honda, 1988), Raymond Roche (Ducati, 1990), Carl Fogarty (Ducati, 1994, 1995, 1998 and 1999), Troy Corser (Ducati, 1996), John Kocinski (Honda, 1997) and Colin Edwards (Honda, 2000). The celebrated blue Michelin cap has been worn on the highest step of the podium on 212 occasions from a total of 312 race starts.

Michelin's principal rider partners in the 2001 championship will be Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda-Michelin), Tadayuki Okada (Castrol Honda-Michelin), Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin) and Ruben Xaus (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin).

In the Supersport series, the firm's products will be raced by Chris Vermeulen (Castrol Honda-Michelin Pilot), Vittoriano Guareschi (Dienza Ducati Racing-Michelin Pilot), Dean Thomas (Dienza Ducati Racing-Michelin Pilot), Kevin Curtain (Honda BKM-Michelin Pilot), Ivan Goi (Honda BKM-Michelin Pilot), Markus Barth (Alfa Technik Castrol Honda-Michelin Pilot) and Adam Fergusson (Alfa Technik Castrol Honda-Michelin Pilot). Michelin Competition wishes a speedy recovery to the latter after his winter testing accident and trusts he will be back on the track very shortly. Until his return, his place will be taken by Alex Gobert.

February testing (February 18th/19th 2001):

Valencia recently hosted two days of pre-season testing for the 2001 championship contenders. Despite half a day of rain, the two days proved highly satisfactory, with Michelin's four rider partners well up amongst the fastest times.

Times from testing:

1, Bostrom (Ducati) 1m 35s228. 2, Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin) 1m 35s503. 3, Okada (Castrol Honda-Michelin) 1m 35s709. 4, Corser (Aprilia) 1m 35s744. 5, Edwards (Castrol Honda-Michelin) 1m 36s047. 6, Laconi (Aprilia) 1m 36s393. 7, Xaus (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin) 1m 36s580. 8, Lavilla (Kawasaki) 1m 36s691. 9, Antonello (Aprilia) 1m 36s709. 10, Bussei (Ducati) 1m 36s847.

Second fastest at Valence, Troy Bayliss is one of the sport's top stars: "I spent a lot of time trying to get used to the bike with the traditional gear-change once again, but in any case I'm pleased. These tests were excellent preparation for the opening race in March. Now I know the Valencia track really well and I feel ready to begin the 2001 season in the best possible way."

Making his debut in the Superbike World Championship after an outstanding season in Supersports last year, Ruben Xaus was up with the fastest at Valencia: "We had a few small problems but I still managed to improve," declared the Spaniard. "I am really pleased to end up seventh quickest after these two days of tests and to have finished amongst the top riders who, for sure, have more Superbike experience than I have."

For Superbike newcomer Tadayuki Okada, Valencia proved highly beneficial and the Japanese rider's work was rewarded with the third fastest time: "I wanted to be faster but overall I'm happy. Despite the rain, it was a good test with no major problems and I'm really looking forward to getting the championship started. We tried a Michelin race tyre that was good and I'm still looking at the finer set-up settings."

Colin Edwards also found the two days in Valencia very positive: "I'm happy enough. I did struggle through the first day-and-a-half and had a crash on the Sunday but we made some changes to the machine at lunchtime Monday and it was much better. And my best lap came on a race tyre not a qualifier; that's always pleasing."

Supersport test times: 1, Riba (Honda) 1m 38s581. 2, Guareschi (Dienza Ducati Racing-Michelin Pilot) 1m 39s107. 3, Bontempi (Yamaha) 1m 39s709. 4, Casoli (Yamaha) 1m 39s719. 5, Foret (Honda) 1m 39s730. 6, Thomas (Dienza Ducati Racing-Michelin Pilot) 1m 39s831. 7, Fujiwara (Suzuki) 1m 39s838. 8, Cogan (Yamaha) 1m 40s127. 9, Muggeridge (Suzuki) 1m 40s148. 10, Daemen (Yamaha) 1m 40s188.

The challenge of Valencia and Michelin's solution

The Superbike World Championship visited Valencia for the first time last year. Located near Cheste, it is approximately 25 km from Valence, 320 km from Madrid and 370 km from Barcelona. The length of the 'Circuit de la Communitat Valenciana - Ricardo Tormo' is 4.005 km for a width ranging between 12 and 13 metres. It features nine left-hand turns and five right-hand turns with radii varying from 30 to 250 metres. The main straight is 876 metres long, the maximum downhill slope is 5.33%, while the maximum uphill gradient is 3.58%. Surface area of the paddock is 49,066 square metres and grandstand-seating capacity is 60,000, plus a further 50,000 on the hill that overlooks the track.

"The main feature of this track is that it generates high temperature build up on the left hand side of the rear tyre," explains Jean Hérissé, the man in charge of Michelin's Superbike programme. "This heat is notably picked up in the negative camber double left-hander leading into the start-finish straight which makes high demands on the tyre's shoulder. The high ground temperatures you can get in this part of Spain (in excess of 50°C) tend to magnify this phenomenon. However, with this year's Superbike race staking place in March, this will clearly not be the case this time round."

Valencia is a spectacular circuit but very demanding for the riders who can be easily caught out by the numerous slow corners. It's certainly not a circuit where the power and speed of the Superbike machines gets a chance to talk. There is plenty of low- gear acceleration, something that is always delicate to handle. It is very much a 'stop- and-go' circuit where riders need a front tyre capable of braking and turning in quickly.

Tyre numbers and staffing

Michelin will have a total of 2,000 dry- and wet-weather tyres at the Spanish race.

Four dimensions are available for the Superbike runners: 18/67x17 (17") and 19/67x420 (16½") for the rear (slicks, rain tyres and intermediates), plus 12/60x17 (17") and 12/60x420 (16½") for the front. There will be a total of 800 dry-weather tyres, 200 rain tyres and 100 intermediate tyres.

For the Supersport race, there will be 900 Michelin Pilot Race tyres in 120/70ZR17 and 180/55ZR17. While all dry-weather tyres must be homologated for road use, wet- weather tyres no longer need to be road approved.

Michelin will have a total staff of thirteen at the race (manager, three technicians, eight fitters, press officer).

Benchmark lap times:

Superbikes:

Fastest qualifying time in 2000:
1m 36s661 (Troy Corser, Aprilia Axo). Average speed: 149.160 kph

Superpole time in 2000:
1m 36s185 (Troy Corser, Aprilia Axo). Average speed: 149.899 kph

Fastest race lap in 2000:
1m 36s817 (Troy Corser, Aprilia Axo). Average speed: 148.920 kph (Race 1, Lap 10)

Results of Race 1 in 2000:
1, Troy Corser (Aprilia Axo). 23 laps (92.115 km) in 37m 17s084 (average speed: 148.235 kph)
2, Ben Bostrom (Team Ducati NCR-Michelin) + 8s703
3, Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha WSBK) + 13s934
4, Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin) + 18s190
5, Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda-Michelin) + 21s205

Results of Race 2 in 2000:
1, Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha WSBK). 23 laps (92.115 km) in 37m 27s788 (average speed: 147.529 kph)
2, Ben Bostrom (Team Ducati NCR-Michelin) + 1s227
3, Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada-Michelin) + 3,056
4, Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda-Michelin) + 10s455
5, Troy Corser (Aprilia Axo) + 12s966

Supersports:

Fastest qualifying time in 2000:
1m 39s725 (Jörg Teuchert, Alpha Technik Yamaha). Average speed: 144.578 kph

Fastest race lap in 2000:
1m 40s199 (Iain MacPherson, Kawasaki Racing). Average speed: 143.894 kph (Lap 11)

Race result in 2000:
1, Christian Kellner (Alpha Technik Yamaha). 23 laps (92.115 km) in 38m 51s491 (average speed: 142.233 kph)
2, Jörg Teuchert (Alpha Technik Yamaha) + 0s012
3, Pere Riba (Castrol Honda-Michelin Pilot) + 0s353
4, Fabrizio Pirovano (Suzuki Alstare) + 12s480
5, Antonio Carlacci (Yamaha GiMotorsports Lights) + 13s649

Follow Round 2 of the 2001 Superbike World Championship (April 1st, Kyalami, South Africa) on www.michelinsport.com.

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About this article
Series World Superbike
Drivers Troy Bayliss , Colin Edwards , Adam Fergusson , Noriyuki Haga , Ruben Xaus , Troy Corser , Christian Kellner , Iain MacPherson , Jorg Teuchert , Pere Riba , Alex Gobert , Dean Thomas , Carl Fogarty , Kevin Curtain , Ivan Goi , Vittoriano Guareschi , Fred Merkel , Ben Bostrom
Teams Williams , Jaguar Racing