With a French accent and an Italian passport, Piero Taramasso is the Michelin manager for two-wheeled championships, MotoGP included of course. He took a ride with us in our GPOneCar at Sepang, speaking openly about the French manufacturer's return to the reigning class.
“Coming back to MotoGP after 7 years isn't easy: teams, bikes and riders are demanding and the tracks are tough - he recounts - The level of power is so high and the electronics helps a lot less this year, so the tyres have to deal with all this”.
Yet, in Qatar the first GP was record-breaking.
“The truth is that we didn't expect to start like that - he recalls - This is a learning year for us; we wanted to supply safe tyres and overall performance was not our main objective, that will be our goal next season”.
Then the problems came.
“The tyres are only talked about when there are problems, not when things are going well - he smiles - When something happens, tyres are sent to Clermont-Ferrand where our experts analyse them all very carefully”.
One of the recurring Michelin rumours regards the special tyre given to a different rider each time.
“That's impossible - guarantees Taramasso - tyres are divided into batches and then delivered to IRTA who assigns them via a lottery system”.
Riders have complained though about the varying quality of the tyres.
“It's rare that it happens, we have excellent quality control, but sometimes a rider will have different sensations -he explains - There are many reasons for this - different tyre pressure, a change in track temperature, or the tyre warmer wasn't correctly heated. In 99% of cases, it's one of these things, then I cannot exclude the possibility of defects resulting from transportation”.
With two GPs remaining, we asked Taramasso to give Michelin a vote on its first season back.
“I'd say 6.5 - he says honestly - A little more than a pass, we haven't made a lot of mistakes, the worse moment was in Argentina but we used this to supply a better product”.
But it doesn't finish there, because there was also talk of a very special test with a MotoGP. We won't give anything away, watch the video instead. And sorry about the audio quality but in Malaysia the air-con is a necessity rather than a luxury.