This year Michelin celebrates many anniversaries: 70 years since the first radial tyre patent, 110 years since the first Italian plant was opened (in Turin, and for Italian investments to the tune of €180 million are expected through 2020) but also the return to MotoGP as sole supplier after a 7-year absence.
A challenge that has thus far reserved pleasant surprises, like the record-breaking début in Qatar, but also some unpleasant surprises, such as the abnormality with the Redding's rear tyre on his Ducati at Sepang. For every Grand Prix, Michelin supplies 1,400 tyres transported on 6 trucks and it has 25 people on the track. The ‘boss’ is Piero Taramasso, and he has the task of illustrating problems and solutions.
“Seven years of absence is a long time and everything changes: bikes, technologies, circuits and riders. The new riding style Marquez introduced creates different stress for the tyres” he explains.
The most striking case was the Redding incident.
“In Argentina we had only done one day of testing with the testers. We didn't have much information - he points out - Scott's problem was due to various factors: the 48°C asphalt temperature, the track layout, the combination of a powerful bike with a heavy rider.”
Michelin had already run for cover at Austin. Now safety is guaranteed and they can work on performance.
“The goals are to adapt the tyres to all of the conditions and to improve rear grip, whereas the riders are satisfied with the front which has a structure that allows inflation pressure to 2 bar, vice 2.5 from last year. This improves the tread on the ground, and we have also introduced compounds with a wider range of use and on a new profile that improves grip beyond 55° inclination.”
Taramasso also talks about the results of the recent Barcelona tests: the front did not pass the riders' examination, whereas for the rear: “we will be able to have one of the ones tested already at Assen or at the Sachsenring.”
The Michelin manager also explains how electronics and winglets have an impact on the tyres.
“The electronics package is less sophisticated and, since it is new, the teams still do not know the best way to use it. All of this has a negative impact on the tyres. For the winglets we have an idea: loading the front, the rear is penalised because it spins more ”, is his analysis.
Every now and then there is controversy on the assignment of the tyres and the compulsory system.
“We divide the tyres up into batches, 51 total, and they are delivered to the IRTA, which then assigns them by a drawing.”
The final considerations are for Ducati.
“It is true that they are struggling more. Their bike is different in terms of conception and they have more powerful engines, but they have the capability to get back to the top soon.”
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