A challenge for MICHELIN tyres at Suzuka
The key factors at play at Round 2 of motorcycling’s Endurance World Championship promise to be suffocating heat, track temperatures in excess of 50°C, changeable weather and the technical subtleties of the track itself which, at 5.8 kilometres, is the longest visited by the series.
The extreme conditions and constraints that make the 8 Hours of Suzuka so special are clearly a challenge for tyres which need to deliver not only high performance but also consistency and the necessary safety across a broad range of temperatures.
At this race last year, MICHELIN tyres helped to establish a new lap record for Suzuka (2m6.845s) and secure pole position in qualifying before completing the race in third place. MICHELIN’s development experts and engineers have used the lessons learned in 2012 to develop evolutions that were validated at the pre-race test session in Japan earlier in July.
The latest-specification MICHELIN tyres have been designed to help the French firm’s three partners target victory, despite the extremely fierce competition they can expect from rivals competing on rival rubber.
Piero TARAMASSO, the manager of MICHELIN Motorsport’s two-wheel programmes: “Thanks to the results we obtained here in 2012, we feel confident for this year’s race. Suzuka is always an event apart in the season, if only because of the importance it represents for the Japanese bike makers who are competing on home soil. The weather conditions can be very demanding, too, both because of the high track temperatures, which can exceed 50°C, and also the rain which often makes the weekend an even bigger challenge. Our test at the beginning of the month was very encouraging. Our solutions for hot, dry conditions were competitive and we topped the time sheet in the wet. The combination of the track’s demanding characteristics and the heat obviously makes this an extremely tough race for the riders, but we are definitely hoping to collect another win at Suzuka in order to showcase the performance, versatility and consistency of our tyres.”
The tyres available for MICHELIN’s three partners (Yamaha YART, BMW Motorrad France Thevent and Yamaha GMT 94) at this year’s 8 Hours of Suzuka are:
- Slicks (dry weather)
- A choice of two front tyres
- A choice of three rear tyres
- Rain tyres
- One front tyre
- A choice of two rear tyres (depending on the amount of water on the track)
MICHELIN technology: from track to road
MICHELIN has always promoted a policy of skill sharing in order to foster synergies between the world of racing and the development of road tyres. The evolutions and benefits which motorsport can bring in terms of performance, safety and enjoyment have long been carried over to the brand’s catalogue tyres.
This transfer of technology is even more apparent in endurance racing, as Piero TARAMASSO, the manager of MICHELIN Motorsport programmes, explains: “Endurance continues to be MICHELIN’s flagship motorcycle racing activity when it comes to research and development. Whether you are talking about races that last 24 or eight hours, the discipline provides us with an opportunity to work on the key performance-related factors, which are longevity, safety and competitiveness. The spectrum of conditions we have to deal with are often similar to those our customers face every day. The carrying over of technologies is consequently very apparent, especially since our decision to switch to 17-inch tyres – the size favoured for production bikes – in 2011.”
It is clear that a return to MICHELIN’s winning ways at Suzuka would stand out as an eloquent illustration of the value of the MICHELIN Total Performance concept which consists in developing tyres that deliver qualities that are commonly believed to be irreconcilable.