26 April 2005
Q&A: Michelin`s Nicolas Goubert on Shanghai.
The MotoGP World Championship arrives at China's Shanghai International Circuit for the very first time this weekend – so how will leading MotoGP tyre manufacturer Michelin meet the challenge?
Here the company's chief of motorcycling competitions, Nicolas Goubert, reveals some of their new circuit secrets...
A MotoGP machine has never ridden around Shanghai before so how will you select the right tyres to take?
When you run on a new circuit, like Shanghai, we begin with a careful analysis of the track. The design itself gives us important data. Shanghai in particular has two very long straights, the starting straight measuring 1202 meters, the longest of the entire championship, it is even longer than Mugello's straight which measures 1140 meters and Barcelona's which is 1047 meters long.
The track is characterized also by two nearly 360º turns, these are particularly 'dangerous' for the tyres as they will get very hot in these points. We also analysed the possible climatic situation; the temperatures shouldn't be very high. Rain remains a fundamental risk factor.
For example, last year Qatar was a new track for us and the stable climatic conditions allowed us to use the four practice sessions in dry weather to the max, and luckily enough, the race was dry too. In China, rain could ruin the work program, leaving very little time to tyre testing.
Being a new track, will you bring a higher number of different types of tyres?
Every time we go to a new circuit we always bring a vast range of tyres compared to what we would bring to an already known track where we have experience and reference points to use.
Have you already sent a technician to study the track?
No, we based our decisions on the design analysis of the track and on the experience of our Formula 1 colleagues.
In what way have you used your Formula 1 experience of this track?
We did a comparative analysis of the data our F1 colleagues gave us. The data they gave us was also useful to understand the type of asphalt of this track and the level of abrasiveness of it.
Looking at the 2005 world championship so far, what progress has been made compared to last year and what have you looked to implement?
Compared to 2004, we have made a huge step forward, especially regarding the rear tyre. We have improved the grip on the maximum angle and the traction. Based on the indications of our riders, this is the direction we began looking at during pre season testing.
During the season we must adapt the various compounds of the tyres to the characteristics of the different tracks. Each time we must keep in mind three fundamental factors: the track characteristics, the asphalt conditions and the weather.
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