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After finally getting the 2019 MotoGP™ season started under the floodlights in Qatar, Michelin face yet another challenge at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina this weekend. The Losail International Circuit throws up its own unique challenges being the only night race on the calendar but since Michelin returned to the paddock in 2016, they are yet to enjoy a full dry weekend in South America, meaning it is as much of a challenge.
Add to that the fact the circuit is renowned for its abrasive surface, mixed with high temperatures and increased loads that are created throughout the five left and nine right-hand turns; plus the back straight in excess of one kilometre, it means the Michelin rubber faces one of its most stringent tests of the whole season.
The French factory will supply an allocation of soft, medium and hard compounds to the MotoGP™ teams, with all of these options being symmetrical in design. This is the first time Michelin has supplied a full selection of symmetric rear tyres at Termas de Rio Hondo, but despite the circuit offering more right-handers than left, the data suggests an even spread of stress is created.
In the event of wet weather, soft and medium tyres on the front and rear will be available, with the difference being the rear tyres will feature a harder right-hand-side; an asymmetric finish unlike the dry compounds.
Circuit setup: Engineers gear up for Argentina
Piero Taramasso, Michelin Motorsport Two-Wheel Manager, admits the Argentinian Grand Prix is a real test: “The Termas track has been a bit of a nemesis for Michelin since we returned to MotoGP. When we had a test there in 2015 it rained, so we didn’t get full data and in the three years that we have raced there we have had inclement weather which has meant we have never been able to get a fully dry weekend where we can totally assess the performance of the tyres.”
“This year we are taking an allocation that we believe is matched to the new asphalt that was laid last season and because we were able to use four compounds in 2018 – due to not being able to test on the new surface – we know how they performed in the few dry sessions we had and have made the decision for the allocation based on that.”
“We have also used our intensive knowledge as to how tyres have performed at other circuits with similar characteristics to Termas when making our decision for the selection for this weekend and based on all that information that we had at our disposal, we have included a complete range of symmetric rear slicks.”
“It is a demanding track that can really push the tyres to the utmost limits, especially if it is quite warm, so we have prepared for what lies ahead and we are determined to get some strong results – if the weather allows us to!”
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