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Michelin Racing’s Technical Director Nicolas Goubert chats to motogp.com about the Sepang test and the unique challenge of Phillip Island.
The 2016 season marks the return of Michelin to MotoGP™. The recent Sepang test was the second official outing for the French manufacturer and it highlighted the significant progress they have made with the development of the front tyre, as highlighted by Jorge Lorenzo’s 1’59.580 lap time from the final day. The Phillip Island test starts on the 17th of February and the abrasive Australian track represents a rather unique challenge for Michelin:
What have you learnt from the last two tests?
“Sepang was the second official test for Michelin after Valencia. During the first test we had a lot of criticism of our front tyres. Riders were not feeling comfortable with it, but since then we have carried out additional private tests with our own team because the official teams have a testing ban during the winter. There has been a real improvement that was proved at Sepang by Jorge Lorenzo’s times. We also brought some new tyres, and a lot of the riders tested them, with 90% of them saying that they were an improvement.”
What are you working on now?
“Mostly the front tyres, we have to confirm our data and there are always some changes to make due to the grip and temperature, which changes according to the track. In Qatar the conditions will be similar to Sepang, but in Phillip Island they are completely different. It’s a unique track in regards to rear tyres, furthermore it will be very hot at the test, which is a nightmare for any tyre manufacturer so we have to take more precautions.”
What kind of demands does Phillip Island put on tyres?
“There are a lot of left-handed corners at Phillip Island so we need tyres that are more resistant on the left side, but that also warm up quickly enough on the right side as well. It is very important to get this right as the race will take place in autumn and there could be an important temperature difference between the left and right side of the tyre.”
Have you finished your investigation into Loris Baz’s crash at Sepang?
“We still haven’t got the results, these things take time, and we will have to wait until the Qatar test to find out.”
What did you learn from Bradley Smith’s run on the intermediate tyres at Sepang?
“Honestly, not a huge amount, as he didn’t get to do many laps. Smith left the pits just after the rain, but the track dried very quickly.”
What do you think about the Grand Prix Commission’s announcement about compulsory tyre pressure sensors in MotoGP™?
“We are totally in favour. You cannot make compromises with tyre pressure control as it a matter of safety. It is great that the GPC have implemented this rule so quickly.”
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