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Michelin wary of competition

Michelin wary of competition

Michelin wary of competition

MotoGP tyre manufacturers Michelin say they are aware of the threat of Bridgestone at the Nelson Piquet circuit this weekend after Makoto Tamada's podium finish there last season. Tamada's Bridgstone rubber proved particularly adept at the Brazilian track and Michelin's chief of motorcycling competitions Nicolas Goubert says that a lack of testing time there means they will have to work particularly hard during the practice sessions to maintain their dominance in Sunday's race.

"Like Welkom and a few other places we never test there," explains Goubert. "That can make it difficult to improve on what you did there before, because you've so little data about the place. And we know we have to improve at Rio because the competition got quite close last time, so we're really looking forward to this year's race.

"Rio isn't so bad for grip, it's been okay since they resurfaced it a few years ago. But the track can be dirty - because it's not used so much - which can make life difficult, especially on the first day before there's much rubber laid down. And if it does rain during the course of the weekend, the track will get dirty again. In the wet, however, the track is grippy, so it shouldn't be a problem in the rain."

Goubert adds that the key to their success could prove to be the 16.5inch front tyre, which has now been integrated by all of their riders after successful tests over the first half of the season.

"This will be the first time everyone has run our 16.5inch front at Rio," he revealed. "We were very happy after the recent Barcelona race because endurance is a problem for both front and rear tyres at that track but after he'd won the race Valentino (Rossi) said that the front was perfect.

"The 16.5inch has a bigger contact patch than the old 17inch, which should be useful at Rio because it's the kind of track where riders need a good front tyre. We're also expecting our 2004 rear tyre to offer some advantages over last year's S4 at this track. This year's rear offers more side-grip, which should help at Rio because there are many long corners."

MotoGP, 2004

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