MotoGP 2016 - Michelin heads to Spain as Europe welcomes its first Grand Prix of 2016
Michelin will be travelling to Jerez in Spain as the fourth round of the MotoGPTM Championship takes place at one of the most visited and eagerly anticipated events of the year.
The French tire manufacturer has already spent a number of days testing at the Spanish circuit during the lead-up to this season and will arrive at Jerez with tires specifically designed to meet the demands of the wide-ranging layout of the circuit. Using data gathered from tests held last November and December, and the information acquired from three challenging races so far this season. Michelin will supply range of tires which are designed to provide good handling and performance, whilst still providing stability, durability and safety. The front tire allocation will feature all three compounds – soft, medium and hard – which can be identified by their white, no colour and yellow bands respectively.
The 4.4km circuit is not as severe on tires as previous tracks visited this season, but it still needs some distinct solutions to give the bikes the best performance options. With this in mind the rear tires will feature the stiffer construction – as used for the first time in Austin last time out – along with a softer compound especially tailored for the Jerez circuit. The rear MICHELIN Power Slicks tire will be available in a soft compound which will be a symmetrical design, whilst the medium version will feature an asymmetrical compound, with a harder right-hand-side to the tire to take into account the number of longer right-hand corners. The rear tires will be identified by a white band on the tire sidewall of the softer version and no band on the medium. If the weather should turn wet at any point during the weekend there will also be the front and rear soft and hard compound MICHELIN Power Rain tires available.
Although it is the first of four rounds held in Spain during the MotoGP season, Jerez is the only one that carries the name ‘Spanish Grand Prix’. As one of the best spectator circuits on the calendar, almost a quarter-of-a-million fans crammed into the viewing areas during last year’s three-day event and a similar sized crowd is expected this year. The passionate and colourful crowd at trackside makes this one of the events of the year and a race that many regard as the true start of the season. Located in Andalucía in the heart of Spain’s Sherry making region, the undulating layout of the Jerez circuit, with fast and slow corners, long straights and hard-braking areas, has a tradition of delivering memorable battles throughout its illustrious history, including numerous Michelin victories by many famous champions.
Michelin and the MotoGP field will take to the track on Friday for two 45-minute Free Practice sessions, followed by another practice the following morning. The all-important qualifying session takes place on Saturday afternoon to decide grid positions for Sunday’s 27-lap race which gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (14.00hrs CEST, 13.00hrs BST, 12.00hrs GMT/UTC).
The demands on the tyres are not as intense at Jerez as some of the other tracks we have visited this season – or will do as the year progresses – but the circuit still has its own demands that we must find the correct solutions for. The specific compounds we will be using will enable the tyre to perform at its best for the entire lap throughout Jerez’s varied layout. We have had a number of tests at the circuit and it was one that Michelin raced at with great success during its last time in MotoGP, so we are going to a track with quite a lot of information for the first time this season. That said though, this will be the first time we have been there in a racing capacity in seven-years, so we are still very much in a learning process and will be throughout the whole weekend.
The start of the season has been very intense for the whole team and now they are all looking forward to the first race in Europe, because it feels a little bit like we will be coming home. For the first time this year we will have our tyre fitting bays, offices and the hospitality unit at a racetrack, but in some ways this is also a bit of a long-haul race because the distance to the Jerez circuit is the longest we will drive for one single event this season. As a result the logistics of getting everything to a race for the first time are increased – but we are all up for the challenge. Jerez is a great place to begin the European races, it is always really busy and the crowds are fantastic, so we cannot wait to be a part of that and put on a good show for all of the spectators.