After a sabbatical of 7 years, Michelin will be returning to MotoGP as the sport’s sole tyre supplier in 2016. Michelin will replace Bridgestone in the premier motorcycle racing series next year onwards, and will supply tyres to all of the teams competing in the sport. Before re-introducing itself in the racing environs though, the French tyre manufacturer has been rigorously working on the development of tyres for the racing series.
Earlier in February 2015, Michelin conducted a preliminary test before the start of 2015 MotoGP season at the Sepang circuit. Taking important feedback from factory teams and riders post that session, Michelin carried out necessary improvements on its tyres, and brought them back to Mugello for a comprehensive test this time by MotoGP riders. Following the Italian GP on last Sunday, the company successfully conducted the second round of tests at the Mugello Circuit as per the schedule.
The one-day tyre test focused primarily on the factory teams- Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, Aprilia and Suzuki- and their riders’ initial feedback and learning about the tyre based on numerous factors. Honda’s factory riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa; Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso and test rider Michele Pirro were present to give Michelin tyres another try after the Sepang test.
Suzuki, however, was absent from the test primarily because their lead rider, Aleix Espargaro, is still recovering from a thumb injury whereas his teammate, Maverick Viñales, does not have the experience and is still a rookie to come up with any insightful feedback.
For the tests, Michelin had brought four different front tyres and a couple of rear tyres. The tyres had two variations on the construction and on the casing along with one new compound.
According to Michelin, a majority of the riders seemed pleased with Michelin’s rear tyres. However, most of them are still facing problems with the front tyres as a number of riders were seen losing the front-end of the bike and crashing out during their practice runs.
Commenting on the development, Michelin’s Technical Director Nicolas Goubert said: “We came here two weeks ago with the test riders to get ready for this test, and here we are in the second test with the top riders, something which is going to be very important for us, because the feedback they give us is key to their success.”
He added: “The test riders, as well as the top riders, were very happy with the rear tyres at the Sepang test. We think we’re there already with the rear; we just have to adjust it to the different venues we’re going to. But on the front the other hand, they’ve asked us to improve some of the parameters. So we will be concentrating on the front again this time.”
Michelin will conduct the next test involving factory riders as well as other riders from the 2015 line-up in Brno, post the Czech GP on the 17th of August, 2015.