MotoGP™ 2018 - Spain - MICHELIN celebrates its 400th victory as Marquez reigns
Michelin made history today as it secured its 400th premier class Grand Prix win as reigning World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) raced to a comprehensive MotoGP™ victory at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España at Jerez in Spain.
The Circuito de Jerez - Angel Nieto provided the perfect backdrop for today’s celebrations as an enthusiastic and noisy crowd filled the hillsides surrounding the 4,423m track. The MICHELIN Power Slicks had performed superbly all weekend on the newly resurfaced layout, leading to Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) making another piece of history in Saturday’s qualifying as he produced the fastest two-wheeled lap ever recorded around the Jerez circuit, which also gave him Pole Position for today’s 25-lap race, an event which took place under clear skies and with a track temperature of 45°C. As the lights changed to signal go, Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) took an early lead and held on to first until lap-eight, when Marquez passed him, a move that would eventually lead to the Spaniard taking victory.
The warm conditions and new asphalt led to many late tyre changes on the grid, as the riders and Michelin Technicians tried to gauge the best selection for their respective riders. From the six different compounds of MICHELIN Power Slicks available to all 25 riders, five were used in varying combinations, with only the soft rear not making appearance, again showing the range of raceable options available to all. As the race wore on, with Marquez pulling clear at the front, an intriguing battle for the other podium places ensued, with Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) vying for the all-important positions. Unfortunately, this battle was brought to a premature end when the three collided on lap-18, causing all to crash, luckily no-one was injured despite the spectacular collision, but the trio were all forced to retire. This led to Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) inheriting second, a position he held until the chequered flag and rewarded him with the honour of First Independent Rider, third-place went to Andrea Iannone (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR) after a thrilling last lap battle with Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing). The three men on the box showed the extensive range of MICHELIN Power Slicks that were being used, as Marquez went with the hard front and medium rear, Zarco choose medium and medium, whilst Iannone opted for a medium front coupled with a hard rear, again highlighting the choice for all riders and styles. This choice and ability to give all riders the optimum selection, was further emphasised with four different manufacturers - Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Ducati - filling the first four places.
This was the first time Michelin had visited the Jerez circuit since it was resurfaced, but two valuable tests had provided important data to enable the company to plan for the race and supply tyres that were at the height of performance, even as temperatures rose and the grip from the track diminished. This ability led to many battles further down the field as Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was fifth, holding off Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) in sixth, while Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), after a difficult start to the race, fought his way through to take seventh. Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team) took his best result of the season so far with eighth and Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) also recorded his best finish so far and the top rookie position with ninth. KTM wild-card Mika Kallio (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) rounded out the top-ten. To begin the 400th Victory celebrations, a surprise guest was waiting in Parc Ferme to welcome the top-three and give Marquez a specially embroidered Michelin cap. Bibendum appeared from behind the scenes to greet the three returning racers and join in the festivities, marking a first time that he had appeared at a MotoGP podium celebration. Michelin will now remain at Jerez on Monday for an Official IRTA Test, before packing up and heading to its home Grand Prix at Le Mans in France on Sunday 20th May.