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Michelin preparing for tricky choices and Donington demands

Michelin preparing for tricky choices and Donington demands

Unpredictable weather and an unusual layout present a tough challenge for Michelin in their quest for the perfect tyre this weekend.

Both Michelin and Bridgestone will be relying on data from Le Mans for their basic Donington provisions, owing to the similarity between the two circuits. In that race the French fabricant took two podium spots and an altogether positive set of home results, with only the victory eluding their riders.

In a detailed briefing for the British Grand Prix Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's chief of motorcycle racing, has analysed the particular demands of the Donington Park circuit and capricious meteorological conditions.

`Two of the last three Donington races have been run in the wet, so we hope for a dry race this time, especially since we have already had rain at a lot of this year's MotoGP events," says Weber, who saw Michelin-shod Honda rider Dani Pedrosa take victory at the track in 2006.

`Donington usually has an okay grip level in the dry but we will have to wait and see how it is this time. Track surfaces tend to change year by year. We saw that at Catalunya where the track was very slippery, possibly because there had been a truck race there a few weeks earlier.

`It is not especially demanding on tyres; it´s probably quite similar to Le Mans from a tyre wear point of view. The big challenge is finding a compromise for the track´s peculiar layout. For example, you need very good warm-up on the left-side of the tyres because the left doesn´t make contact with the tarmac very often. If you consider Foggy´s esses, the left of the tyres hasn´t touched the ground for a long time, so you need to make sure you still have good temperature in the tyres for the first part of the chicane. But you can´t simply use a very soft compound on the left because that side of the tyre does get a lot of stress through the high-speed double left-hander of Schwantz Curve,´ explains the Michelin head, illustrating the challenge faced when it comes to choosing compounds.

`We had a very useful two-day test at Catalunya after the race where we confirmed some new compounds that we will use for some races in the near future. As always, we are working to find the best balance between tyre performance and consistency. In MotoGP riders now need to run quite hard tyres which allow them to be fast all the way to the finish, but at the same time they need fast warm-up and excellent grip. We have also made some good progress with new constructions recently. Andrea Dovizioso used a new rear construction during the tests at Catalunya, something we had worked out after Mugello, and it gave good results.´


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