Patrick Isaaco has been present in grand prix road racing for over 15 years, working alongside the likes of Mick Doohan, Wayne Gardner and Alex Criville.
Isaaco first began to work in grand prix in 1989, as Michelin's co-ordinator in all three categories, where he managed the team's complete logistics, from plane tickets to material transport.
In 1991 Michelin did not participate in the grand prix world championship and Isaaco went to Germany to work with Mercedes technicians in DTM. In 1992 he returned to motorcycle grand prix with Michelin, joining the official HRC team running Doohan and Gardner, in addition to an official 250cc team with Luca Cadalora and a 125cc outfit.
Isaaco is now Dani Pedrosa's Michelin technician at Repsol Honda, responsible for making sure the 2008 MotoGP title contender has the best tyres possible at each and every grand prix...
To begin with, could you explain the main features of tyre construction?
I won't go into great detail, but basically a tyre is made up of a carcass - the internal structure of the tyre - and the external rubber part, that is to say the tread and walls that make contact with the floor. All of these parts can vary their rigidity depending on the desired level of traction or grip. Whatever happens, research never stops so that all parts are improved and modified.
Riders are always asking for more, so we constantly work on developing tyres. And the dimensions can also be changed, although once the season has started they do not usually vary too much. Tests can be made, but in general during a single season everything stays the same; and this year all riders are using 16 inch tyres at the front and 16.5” on the rear.
Last year was tough for Michelin. From your point of view how is the 2008 season working out?
Competition racing is very demanding and there is never anything that is perfect. As I said there is always work to be done and improvements to be made. This year is also being very difficult since the championship is very tight and it is not easy to create any big differences. That is why we are constantly seeking new solutions. If you look at the championship the battle is very tough between Stoner, Rossi, Dani Pedrosa, and even Jorge Lorenzo, who is still there. All the riders can do a good job, and we have to carry on working. Nothing is ever decided before the start.
What do you think about the current tyre regulations, which limit the number of tyres that can be used and make tyre selection on a Thursday crucial for the outcome of the race...
It's not easy and the truth is that the regulations have made our job a little more complicated, but at the same time it is true that we have more tyres this year than last. Back then everybody criticised them because they were new regulations and it was not easy. Now everybody has got used to them and the work is done keeping them in mind. This is how the rules are and we have to respect them. So far this year things have not gone too badly, although the truth is that the work needs a better level of anticipation and a good co-ordination between the team, the rider and Michelin so that the right decision can be made on the Thursday before a race