19 November 2015
MotoGP riders ‘need time’ to understand Michelins
“The crashes themselves are not Michelin's fault. This is a big change”
HRC vice president Shuhei Nakamoto says it is wrong to point the finger solely at Michelin for the number of accidents seen at the recent Valencia MotoGP test.
After seven years with Bridgestone, Michelin is returning to take over as MotoGP's exclusive tyre supplier.
The Michelin lap times at Valencia were already very impressive, beating the best seen in the season-ending race, but both days also saw numerous front-end falls.
“The tyres are different, but the lap time is very similar,” confirmed Nakamoto, whose riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa were first and third fastest at the test.
“So the Michelin has similar potential to Bridgestone already. But there have been crashes on both days, which means the riders still need time to understand how to use the [Michelin] tyres.
“This is the main reason. The crashes themselves are not Michelin's fault. This is a big change.
“Our engineers are also learning how to use the tyres. So if we need to make changes to the suspension, chassis we will do it. But at the moment we need more time.”
While Bridgestone had a dominant front tyre, the grip balance has shifted towards the rear with Michelin. Characteristics such as tyre profile and stiffness are also unique to each brand.
Tyres are not the only major technical change for 2016, with riders and engineers also at the start of a steep learning curve with the new single ECU software.
“We received this version of the software last Friday,” Nakamoto said. “The engineers just had time to check for bugs. The new software is working but it is different from our Factory software so our engineers need to learn how to use it.
“After this test the three manufacturers - Honda, Yamaha and Ducati - will have a meeting with Magneti-Marelli and talk about the future.”
Honda, Yamaha and Ducati were the manufacturers present in MotoGP when the move to a single ECU was agreed. They can force new features to be added to the software, for all to use, but cannot do any direct programming themselves.
“Development is Magneti-Marelli's job,” Nakamoto confirmed. “The three manufacturers make a kind of a priority list, or request list. At the moment there are a lot of things. But we cannot have everything at one time.
“If the Magneti-Marelli engineers ask the Honda engineers to join [them] to make some coding, we are more than happy to help them.”
Tyre and ECU work will again be the top priorities during next week's private Jerez test, to be attended by Honda, Ducati and Aprilia. Suzuki will hold a test at Sepang, leaving only Yamaha without its race team on track.
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