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Michelin await the unexpected in Qatar

Michelin await the unexpected in Qatar

Michelin await the unexpected in Qatar

The Losail International Circuit presents a brand new challenge for the MotoGP tyre manufacturers this weekend, with an unknown track surface, hot temperatures and uncertainty over grip levels all combining to make the Marlboro Grand Prix of Qatar one of the most difficult on the calendar.

Michelin's chief of motorcycling competitions Nicolas Goubert says that their only option is to try and provide for as many eventualities as possible and hope the riders can find their machine set-up quickly to aid their choice of rubber.

"As with any new circuit, we will use a different approach at Losail," explains,. "Obviously we don't know the track, so we don't know what the surface is like or how precisely the layout will affect tyres. That's why we will take a wider-than-usual range of tyres, from quite soft to quite hard, so that we will be ready whatever the conditions.

"Losail is out in the desert, so my only concern is what will happen if sand gets on the track. Obviously sand suddenly and dramatically reduces grip if it reaches the track surface.

"If the circuit is dirty on the first day and cleans up with use, that's not so bad, but if more sand gets blown onto the track on the Friday night before the race, it could be a nightmare.

"We know the weather will be hot, but we're ready for that. If the track temperature reaches 50 degrees that won't be anything new for us. We have contended happily with temperatures like that, both at Sepang in Malaysia and at the Suzuka Eight Hours race in Japan.

"The circuit layout doesn't look anything unusual, so that shouldn't present a problem. Neither should the straight, it's long but it's not like Monza or the old Hockenheim.

"The track is new which means it should be very smooth, which should make set-up easier. Overall, it will be a very challenging event for everyone – for us, for the riders and for the teams. And like any new track, whoever manages to find the best set-up soonest will have a real advantage as they work towards choosing the best tyres for the race."

Tags:
MotoGP, 2004, MARLBORO GRAND PRIX OF QATAR

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