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Valencia MotoGP Test: MotoGP stars talk Michelin tyres

"With Michelin you use more the rear tyre, with the Bridgestone you use the front tyre. It's two different styles"
Tuesday at Valencia wasn't the first time MotoGP riders have tested next year's Michelin tyres, but it was the first time they could publically speak about it.

The French brand is taking over from Bridgestone, which has been the single tyre supplier since 2009.

Tuesday was also the first time that lap times were officially available at a Michelin test, with some riders already quicker than they had been in Sunday's season-ending race. Fastest man Marquez was only a few tenths slower than Jorge Lorenzo's best lap on the way to victory on Sunday.

The downside was that, just as in previous tests, there were a number of front end falls - 12 riders to be exact: Marquez, Crutchlow, Pol Espargaro, Aleix Espargaro (twice), Laverty (twice), Vinales, Bautista, Bradl, Miller, Rabat and Iannone.

The accidents were attributed to the shift in grip balance from a dominant front tyre with the Bridgestones to dominate rear with the Michelins. This is what some of the MotoGP riders had to say after day one:

Marc Marquez: (Repsol Honda, 1st):
“It didn't start so good. Already on the fourth lap I had a small crash. The tyres are working different depending on the asphalt. Definitely with Bridgestone you go to one circuit and another and they're working really similar but I already felt this, from Misano to Aragon. I say maybe it was the temperature. We come here again and they are working completely different.

“In Aragon we had a lot of problems with the rear one. After ten laps that was completely destroyed. The front one was better but not so bad. This one [that we tested here] the front one was difficult to understand. We saw many crashes because there is no warning. You feel well, well, well, well. Even the 1m 31.5s is a good lap but you feel that you can be much faster. When you lose the front it's impossible for the moment, we still need to understand a way to pick up the bike.

“Of course now you must stress less the front tyre. With Bridgestone it was incredible the front. The Michelin is incredible the rear. But then you must stress less but you must get the compromise in the braking point and also in the fast corners. If you stress less in the braking points then in the fast corners you feel too light and you lose the front. There is still a question mark and everybody is trying to find the best way to ride and the best way to set up the bike.”

Andrea Iannone: (Ducati Team, 2nd):
“I'm really happy about the tyres, the feel from the beginning is really good. I'm a little bit surprised, because so many people talk about the tyres as being worse compared to the Bridgestone, saying especially in front, it's a disaster... When I try the first time in Misano, the feeling was not so bad, but not like today. Today from the beginning it's really good. Also the pace, and also the bike. I'm happy.

“At the moment, the front tyre for me is perfect. With the Bridgestone, it's really important you arrive with the braking in the middle of the corner. With this tyre, no. Because the rear reduce the speed more compared to the Bridgestone. With Michelin you use more the rear tyre, with the Bridgestone you use the front tyre. It's two different styles.”

Dani Pedrosa: (Repsol Honda, 3rd):
“It's like if you tell me you've been riding a Honda in the past, so now back to Honda. In every manufacturer, if it's for bikes, or tyres or pasta, the style is the same, pretty much. Maybe the moment and the bikes are different and the riding style is different, but the way they know how to make tyres is pretty much the same. Yes [I feel comfortable]. Today I was testing the first two runs only with the 2015 bike, then after that we changed to the new electronics, so I can only say about the tyres for the first two runs.”

Maverick Vinales: (Suzuki Ecstar, 4th):
“Today we have focused mainly in finding the feeling with the new tyres and my judgement so far is very positive and I feel comfortable with them. I could have been more effective in the braking as the rear is so stable, allowing me to be effective in the entrance of the corner and also in corner-speed.

“The character of these tyres is different from the previous ones, we need to better-understand how they react and the crash I had today is proof of this: I suddenly lost the front without any warning; my feeling is that they have much-more grip at the rear but still some uncertainty about the front. This will affect my riding style because I will probably have to load the front more to keep it more stable.”

Jorge Lorenzo: (Movistar Yamaha, 5th):
“At the beginning it was difficult to get good lap times, but by changing the setting of the bike little by little, we improved the feeling of the front quite a bit. We didn't solve the problem completely. I now have a feeling that I think everybody has; at the entry of the corner we lose a bit of stability and also when reaching the maximum lean with throttle the front can close suddenly if you push so much. It's the opposite for the rear tyre, it's fantastic! It's unbelievably grippy and it gives you a very good feeling. We need to work a bit more on the front.”

Cal Crutchlow: (LCR Honda, 6th):
“I had a small crash but really it was my own fault and I pushed quite hard in that lap and made a small mistake. Today was about testing a few parts for them [Honda] and getting used to the tyre a little bit and seeing the limit; Marc found it in three laps and I found it in eight laps

“Michelin is doing a great job coming here with 24 riders that have rode Bridgestones all year and all weekend. I made a comment earlier on in the year that no-one was changing their bike settings towards the Michelins and also their riding style, but I think they are now and I think we all need to work together.

“There's not so much difference [in tyres since Aragon test] and I think we've seen today that there's not a massive improvement. It's a difficult circuit to get right, but you don't see that many crashes on a test ever,”

Pol Espargaro: (Tech 3 Yamaha, 7th):
“There were a lot of crashes as we are all trying to adapt and we can't expect everything to be perfect as soon as we start. I know that Michelin are working hard to improve the front tyre, which is the main issue at the moment, but I must also say that the rear compound is already really good.”

Bradley Smith: (Tech 3 Yamaha, 8th):
“I think it's a combination of things. I can't speak for the other manufacturers, but I know that we needed to shift quite a lot of our bike balance more towards the front end of our bike. It was something that I realised already at Aragon and continued to do a little bit here. But also the profile of the front tyre from the Michelin to the Bridgestone is different. Especially that contact patch feeling is different. It almost feels like we are more like a triangle. Which is OK if you take it steady.

“I think a lot of riders going back to maybe a Bridgestone tendency and especially when you've got grip in the rear and are trying to go for a lap time. I found a similar type of thing in similar type of corners to everyone else; turn 3, turn 5 I had my own moments there as well on the new bike. Just where I was like 'I've got confidence now' and flicked it in like I would do normally. That's not the way to do it. They just need to ride in a slightly different way. You can't expect two manufactures to build exactly the same tyres. As riders we have to adjust.”

Aleix Espargaro: (Suzuki Ecstar, 9th):
“This day has been a little strange because it's the very first time in my career that I have crashed twice in the same day. Of course, new tyres mean a lot of work to adapt the riding style because their behaviour is pretty peculiar; now we have a very good performing rear-end and a front that still needs improvements. In fact, the two crashes I had were due to a sudden lack of grip at the front.

“For sure, the riding style has to change; I need to push more in the front and to take advantage of the positives of these new Michelins. To have much-more grip at the rear means that I can take the bike up immediately at mid-corner and open the throttle earlier. Of course we need to also change the machine's set-up; so far we focused to get our impressions of the tyres without major improvements in the bike, so we will now start to change the machine.”

Andrea Dovizioso: (Ducati Team, 10th):
“The good point is the tyres have really good potential. If you see the lap time of everybody it's really fast so this is good. But they are completely different. The approach of the line, the braking, the intensity has to be different so it's not easy. What we saw today I don't think will be already the level of everyone. I think there is a big margin from the riders and especially from the bikes to improve.

“We have to be smart and follow them on how to improve. For me the biggest point to improve is the movement. I believe we have a lot of grip on the rear and created all the movement on the front on entry. That's why many riders crashed. With that grip it's very difficult to feel when you lose the front. That's why the riders crashed.

Also, when you are at the maximum angle with the bike and you need to transfer to the rear, it's very easy to lose the front. It's the consequence of the rear, not the front so it's difficult to manage.”

Scott Redding: (Pramac Ducati, 11th):
“I feel quite good on the Michelins. The rear is OK, I tried the hard but it wasn't great at this circuit and with the front I only tried the soft which was a bit too soft but tomorrow we'll try the hard. I couldn't get the temperature in to the harder rear, the front tyre isn't bad but you have to change your riding style as you can't attack the corners as hard as you could on the Bridgestone.

“A couple of times today the front started to close on me when I loaded too much, same speed, same angle and brake release, but just half a metre later on the gas and then I overload it. You couldn't do that with the Bridgestone but you can on the soft Michelin.”

Valentino Rossi: (Movistar Yamaha, 12th):
“The rear tyre is very similar and Michelin is good, it has very good grip. The front is the big difference. We need to understand how much weight this tyre needs to turn at the maximum. We need some more time. We have to understand the setting of the bike and after a little bit also the riding style. But the biggest difference is try to improve the settings.”

Jack Miller: (Marc VDS Honda, 15th)
“The Michelins are a good tyre, and it's been a really fun day working with them, but you pick up old habits riding on the Bridgestones that don't work on the Michelins - from the front.

“The rear is a really good tyre coming from the Bridgestones, and the front is also very, very good - but good in another way from the Michelin. The old one was the way you could brake with so much pressure on an angle, but on this one it's good in another direction - so you have to adjust the bike and my riding style.

“It's not so much that you have to trail the brake less; you still have to do it the same, but you can't use as much force on an angle. You have to keep it upright, release it a little more as you turn in - and if you don't, you lose the front, as many people, myself included, realised today!

“It's exactly like how you rode a 250GP bike – I never rode one, but from what I know and assume it was the same. We had a small crash today, with a lot of laps on the tyres and just as we were getting ready to put in new ones - and it just got away from us.”

Yonny Hernandez: (Aspar Ducati, 19th)
“The Michelins are completely different, the front feels a little strange and I didn't have a good feeling so I didn't push it too hard or take risks on the first day. There were quite a few crashes today so I took it steady.”

Eugene Laverty: (Aspar Ducati, 21st)
“The rear has definitely got grip. We were having problems with rear grip all weekend, on entry and exit but now even when the tyre was quite used it still had grip, so that's good.

“The front I couldn't understand yet but it's clear the front fork setting is quite far away from what I need so I can't push the front yet to understand the tyre but the problem isn't the tyre it's inside the fork, so gradually when we start making small changes we'll begin to learn.”

Tagged as: Michelin

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Marquez, Valencia MotoGP test. November 2015
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Dovizioso, Australian MotoGP 2016

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