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Laguna Seca, a new challenge for Michelin

Laguna Seca, a new challenge for Michelin

Laguna Seca, a new challenge for Michelin

Michelin has won three premier-class GPs at Laguna, all of them with American riders. Californian Eddie Lawson (Marlboro Yamaha Team Roberts) won the inaugural Laguna GP in April 1988, beating fellow Michelin men Wayne Gardner (Rothmans Honda) and Niall Mackenzie (HB Honda).

Monterey resident Wayne Rainey (Marlboro Yamaha Team Roberts) defeated Aussie Mick Doohan (Rothmans Honda) to win the 1990 event. And Arkansas rider John Kocinski (Cagiva) outpaced Brazilian Alex Barros (Lucky Strike Suzuki) in the 1993 race, the penultimate US GP before the event dropped off the calendar. This weekend the French tyre brand aims to continue its unbeaten run of victories in the 2005 MotoGP World Championship.

"We're really happy to be taking MotoGP to the States for the first time," says Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcycle competitions. "And Laguna is a really impressive circuit – you always get good racing there. The track is a real challenge. We've had our ups and downs there, though we were strong during our last few visits in World Superbike.

"Everything changed when we started running our 16.5in front tyre because the front is very important at Laguna. There's a lot of downhill corner entries, even more than at Mugello, and the 16.5 gives you good feedback so you've got the confidence to really attack the turns. It's never that easy to find rear grip at Laguna, it's usually a bit slippery, but it shouldn't be a problem.

"Laguna isn't a new circuit for us, so it's not a totally new track like Istanbul, but it's been a few years since we've raced there, so the bikes and the tyres are very different. Our knowledge from previous visits will give us a few clues for tyre design but otherwise it's a new challenge, so we'll be taking a larger-than-usual range of tyres, so we have something to cover all eventualities."


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