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Michelin on Elias and 2007 regulations

Michelin on Elias and 2007 regulations

Michelin on Elias and 2007 regulations

Tyre factory Michelin were the big winners from last weekend's race in Portugal, with the top five all using their tyres. Going into the final race, only two riders can win the championship, and both are on Michelin-shod bikes. One of Valentino Rossi, who finished second, and Nicky Hayden, who DNFed, will be taking the title in under two weeks time.

Sunday's race was won by first-time MotoGP winner Toni Elias , who beat reigning champ Rossi by two thousandths of a second. Kenny Roberts Jr. finished third a further 0.174 seconds behind. All three riders chose different compound Michelin slicks, Elias choosing a medium rear, Rossi a hard rear and Roberts a soft rear.

"Our riders were able to dominate this weekend," said Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. "We had the top five places in qualifying and the top five in the race, well ahead of our rivals. Our tyres' performance and consistency were very good, Toni riding his fastest lap on lap 20, and the race for the lead was one of the most entertaining this year. Toni rode some great races earlier this season but then he got injured at Assen. We didn't expect him to win here after he qualified 11th. But it's funny, at Sepang one of the TV channels did interviews with some of our riders, all of them wearing Michelin podium caps. After Toni had finished his he gave back his cap and told me he wanted me to give it back to him when he got his first MotoGP podium. He really deserved the win and the cap too! "The race wasn't easy for anyone because conditions were much cooler today, though Kenny was the only top guy to change his tyre choice after morning warm-up. I feel very sorry for Nicky. Today's race proved once again that anything can happen at any time in bike racing. The last race at Valencia will be very exciting, the title won't be decided until the chequered flag."

Goubert also passed comment on the new tyre regulations for 2007, announced before the race in Estoril.

"The tyre agreement is a very good agreement, especially if you look at what is happening in other major motorsport championships, particularly in Formula One switching to a single tyre maker rule." "The most important aspect of the new rules is that they ensure we will be able to continue competing with other tyre companies. Carmelo Ezpeleta (CEO of Dorna, the MotoGP rights holders) played a major role in this, he asked the tyre companies to come up with a compromise that would be acceptable to all of us because he wanted different tyre brands to continue fighting on the racetrack. The major motorcycle manufacturers also pushed hard to keep different tyre brands involved because they understand that the technology derived from MotoGP can be used on streetbikes, so this agreement is also very good for the end-user. "Once the objective to keep everyone involved was clear, the second most important point was to ensure that we don't have too much cost inflation, because costs can escalate when you have major manufacturers competing in a highly prestigious series. In this respect, the most important factor was to reduce the possibility of test teams to test tyres.

From next year test teams can only run at official IRTA tests plus one track during the season and one track during the off-season. "The third point was to ensure that there wouldn't be more and more testing for the MotoGP teams, so Dorna has limited winter testing to seven sessions, organised by IRTA. This is good, especially for safety, because there will be full medical back-up at these tests. During the season the only testing will be done immediately after GPs, with the teams staying on to test at the same track. This is something we suggested a few years ago and is very efficient results-wise, safety-wise and cost-wise. It's another good move. All these restrictions ensure there will be more equal competition across the grid because the factory teams won't be able to test more than the non-factory teams.

"The fourth and final point was limiting the amount of tyres riders can use during a race weekend. The limit will be 31 tyres per rider, which isn't much of a reduction from what we currently use but will prevent any increase, especially with regard to qualifying tyres. The new rules don't require all the tyres we supply to be the same so we can work even harder than we do now at tailoring tyres to suit each rider, because riding style is so crucial to tyre choice. Our riders will be heavily involved in the process of having tyres tailored to their individual needs. "As always, we will support the MotoGP series as much as we can, supplying tyres to a respectable number of teams as long as they want to keep working with us. We are ready to supply up to 50 per cent of the grid. "The tyre regulations take effect from the start of next year and there is no time limit to the rules, but if the tyre manufacturers decide that a certain aspect of the rules needs to be fine-tuned, we can agree to change them for the following year."


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