After months of preparation and testing in France, Malaysia and then most recently in Qatar, Michelin rubber will finally get their first taste of competitive action this weekend under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit.
As the VisitQatar Grand Prix is the only night race on the 19-event MotoGP™ World Championship calendar, it throws up a unique environment for teams to manage.
Sand from the desert can easily blow onto the surface making the track abrasive, which has a subsequent effect on tyre life. Whilst, as temperatures drop during nightfall, dew can begin to form on the track and the curbs, meaning less grip is available.
It’s the final day of the #QatarTest and with good weather forecast all day, the tyre fitters are putting the rain tyres away, don’t think they’ll be needed for this test.#MichelinMotoGP pic.twitter.com/PM5EDdUFXW— Michelin Motorsport (@Michelin_Sport) February 25, 2019
All 11 MotoGP™ teams will have a weekend tyre allocation of soft (white band), medium (no band) and hard (yellow band) Michelin tyres for the front and rear. The front tyre will have a symmetric design. However, Qatar's Turn 2 is a key corner on the circuit with many top riders losing the front end on the brakes over the years. Most notably and recently being Frenchman Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) crashing out of the lead of his debut race at the tricky left-hander.
The rear tyre will have an asymmetric finish with the right-hand-side being harder than the left to offer optimum performance through the circuit’s 10 right-hand and 6 left-hand corners.
Changes to the compounds for 2019 will see a new front hard compound and a new rear soft. The rear tyre is one of the new technology tyres that Michelin has added to the range and it´s designed to give greater consistency and improved grip.
Plus, if wet weather is brought into the equation we´ll see soft and medium compounds on the front and rear become available.
With Michelin holding both the lap and race records around the Losail International Circuit, plus the introduction of a new and improved rear soft tyre, lap times in the desert are expected to be hot.
Piero Taramasso, Michelin Motorsport two-wheel manager: “We have had a very successful off-season, as we introduced some new slick compounds that we had been developing and the riders were very pleased with the performance, so these have been added to the range for 2019. These are aimed more at European tracks, but we have added them to the allocation at Losail as we believe they are ideal for what that track has to offer. We are looking forward to the new season, there are new riders, bikes, and teams that have changed manufacturers, so there is a huge amount for all of our technicians to work on. We are up for the challenge and everyone is ready to get back into the racing environment. Losail has been a good track for Michelin since we returned, even though it is a very unique circuit with particular demands, so we are determined to push the performance on again this year, as we plan to do at every track we visit.”