Michelin’s return to MotoGP was not painless, but all told, the French manufacturer managed to take the blows. That does not mean that everything was smooth sailing or that the disasters in the Sepang tests (Baz’s rear tyre disintegrated into pieces on the straight) or Argentina (where it was Redding who had problems) are forgotten, but for Nicolas Goubert, technical director for the manufacturer from Clermont-Ferrand, the budget is in the black.
“I am very pleased with Michelin’s first season back in MotoGP following seven years away - he explains - It has been a tremendous challenge and we have tackled it with great success. If we rewind the clock a year, our MotoGP comeback was very much a leap into the unknown, with new riders, new bikes and new tracks to discover and that’s before you even considered riding styles that had changed over the course of recent seasons and an electronic package that teams were still trying to get to grips with.”
For Goubert, the challenge has been overcome and he emphasizes Michelin’s reaction capabilities.
“Every time we came upon a problem, we were able to modify our tyres in record time. Like when we needed to react quickly after Argentina and we produced a batch of new rear tyres in the space of just three days”, he remembers.
There have naturally been some missteps as well, but getting back to prototype racing has paid off for Michelin.
“In actual fact, we engineered more developments over this single season in MotoGP than we did during seven-years of working in other motorcycle racing disciplines - the manager points out - We tested new rubber compounds and materials, designed new tyre profiles and produced new structures.”
Goubert believes that the nine different winners during the year are also a credit to the tyres and in some ways, he is right. However, the 2016 is over now and we must begin to think about next year.
“In Valencia, we offered the riders our prototype 2017 front tyres for the weekend and more than three-quarters of the field opted to use this new profile - he says - This allowed us to confirm in the race that our development teams are progressing in the right direction. Lorenzo even set a new lap record in the Grand Prix and in qualifying posted the fastest lap ever completed around the Valencia Circuit. Last but not least, I must pay tribute to all the riders, teams, manufacturers and both IRTA and Dorna for collaborating so well and closely with us all season-long.”