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Michelin moving from strength to strength in the premier class

Michelin moving from strength to strength in the premier class

Michelin moving from strength to strength in the premier class

Michelin are without question the dominant force in the MotoGP world of rubber and this year celebrate their 30th year of competition in the Grand Prix world with the continuing knowledge that their tyre technology is still helping riders to smash lap records and race times at more or less every circuit.

Since the introduction of four-stroke machinery into the World Championships tyre manufacturers have had their work cut out to produce enough adhesion for the awesome power of these new motorcycles.

Michelin have risen to the task and their effectiveness is shown in their dominance of the scene and the sheer amount of riders and teams that ally with the French firm. Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Ducati and Aprilia all run with Michelin ‘boots'.

Lap-times started to tumble in 2002 when they introduced the S4 rear tyre, boasting a larger contact patch at high lean angles to try and effectively transfer the increased horsepower to the asphalt. For 2003 they have been focussing on achieving the same level of success with regards to the front. So far the signs have been encouraging as the times continue to fall. Rossi's race time in Brno was 17.6 seconds faster than last year's Czech GP, which in turn was 25 seconds quicker than the 2001 event. The World Champion even set a lap record on the very last circulation of the race.

"This winter we have put most of our effort into the front tyre, which is always a long-term process," commented Motorcycle competitions chief Nicolas Goubert on the official website. "It takes much longer to move front-tyre performance forward because it's not so easy for riders to push the front to the limit during testing. The front tyre involves deeper involvement between us and our riders."

This area is clearly one that requires attention as numerous riders have hinted throughout the season that they have been struggling with the feel of the front end while steering their respective machines, Carlos Checa on the Yamaha and even Sete Gibernau have been looking for an improved performance in the handling to name but two examples.

"The big thing has been our work on construction," continued Goubert. "We've been looking for more stability during braking and turn-in, and for more feel, always more feel. We think we've found a good direction with our latest fronts."

Tyre development is a year-long job, stretching right through the on and off season. Michelin take more than 2000 tyres to every Grand Prix. They first tasted success in the premier class with Barry Sheene back in 1976 and have been a part of title success every season since 1992.

MotoGP, 2003

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