For Michelin this is the start of their second year in MotoGP, the year when they will have to try and avoid repeating the mistakes of their début season and at the same time improve their performance. This is a test not to take lightly, but they are optimistic in Clermont Ferrand. “The news this year is that the riders will have 3 different options available to them at every race, both for the front and the rear, and all of them will be able to last race distance” racing manager Piero Taramasso explains.
They are also different from last year.
“The front tyres have a new profile and the rear have a new carcass in order to guarantee more traction. In general, you can say that they are softer.”
Valentino did not seem to like this characteristic too much…
“Our changes were made to eliminate the vibrations that some riders complained about last year and that sometimes caused crashes. Everyone liked the new tyres. Only Valentino and Iannone had some problems.”
Why is that?
“Those vibrations were not much of a bother to Valentino, who wants a very stable tyre most of all, whereas this one moves slightly more. In any case, I am sure that he will find a solution; it is just a matter of time. Just look at what Viñales is doing with the same bike.”
Yesterday Maverick lapped just 4 tenths slower than Lorenzo’s 2008 record, when there were still qualifying tyres…
“He repeated the same time as the tests, but with the track in worse conditions. I think that record can be broken this weekend if the track is in good conditions.”
Is performance Michelin’s goal this year?
“Last year, here in Qatar, the results were already excellent but after the problems in Argentina we modified the rear tyre to guarantee better safety. We continued working and now we are almost back at that performance level, in any case increasing the resistance of the carcasses. The goal is to improve our performance on the circuits where we struggled the most, such as Termas de Rio Honda, Austin, Jerez and Le Mans.”
You said that each one of the tyre types can last race distance, but the riders do not seem to be very convinced about the soft…
“In the tests, various riders were able to complete a race simulation with that tyre without any problems except for a drop in performance.”
Which bikes are the gentlest on the tyres?
“KTM, Aprilia and Ducati.”
Ducati, with its power?
“It may seem strange, but it’s true. I think that it is partly due to their electronics management and partly due to the balance.”
Should we expect evolutions during the season?
“No, because we want to guarantee stability and therefore the profiles and tyres will not change. We will simply adapt the compounds to the various tracks and we will most likely try new material in the tests.”