Michelin has brought variations of a dual compound rear tyre to Phillip Island for the second MotoGP test of 2016, along with the two most favoured front tyre specifications from the Sepang test, held at the start of February.
Piero Taramasso, manager of Michelin's two-wheel motorsport activities also explained that riders' first impressions of the rear tyre were positive, with its traction a particular proving popular.
The French firm, that returns to MotoGP as sole-tyre supplier after a seven-year absence, was keen to test around Phillip Island, a track which places distinctive and considerable demands on the rubber available to riders.
Thus the rear tyres that riders are using at the test, which lasts from Wednesday to Friday, vary from those used in Sepang.
“Especially the rear tyre is unique [so we have] different compounds compared to the other track because it's very aggressive,” Taramasso told Crash.net
on Thursday morning.
“The front is quite soft. We brought the front specification from Sepang. The two best specifications to make a test and a comparison, to make a choice for the race. So far, ok the weather is quite crazy so we didn't have time to do a proper test. But we will see. Maybe this afternoon or tomorrow.
“It's is the same carcass [as the rear tyre used in Sepang]. We just changed the left and right compounds. The grip, they did a few laps in dry conditions.
“Actually they said the soft one the grip is very high. They like it. The traction is very good. It helps the riders to stop. They use much more of the rear grip than they did last year.”
Rain showers consistently interrupted dry track time on Wednesday and Thursday morning at the seaside venue. Verging on the side of caution, Michelin told riders not to do more than 15 laps on one rear tyre on the first day to ensure excessive stress wasn't placed on the rubber beneath them.
However, such were the conditions riders were unable to string more than several laps together, meaning feedback on the dry rubber was far from conclusive.
“This is 15 timed laps,” explained Taramasso. “So the total could be 21 or 25. It was just a precaution for the first day. We ran Monday and Tuesday with the HRC test rider and the Suzuki test rider. They did 30 laps, the race distance here, without any problem. Just because the official riders they are two seconds quicker so we want to get some information before.”
The changing weather led Cal Crutchlow to label Wednesday's on-track ventures “a waste of time”, but it at least gave riders the opportunity to sample Michelin's wet tyres.
While Crutchlow felt the front didn't offer a great deal of stability, other riders like Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi voiced more positive opinions.
Overall, Taramasso was content with the general feedback he received. “We had the chance to test the rain tyre,” he continued. “As you know they are already fixed for the season. Yesterday we did several laps and everyone looks quite happy with the grip and the consistency.
“With the wet they were very happy and confident. The front grip was good and the consistent with the rear was good too.
“We had a few riders that try the intermediate tyre. You know this is new for this season. The feedback was also good. All the riders said the potential is there. They were surprised for the strong performance. It is actually very hard for them to find the limits.”