Michelin heads to next weekend's German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring aiming to continue its perfect form around the tortuously twisty racetrack.
Michelin riders have won all eight premier-class races held at the Sachsenring since 1998 - and the French manufacturer will be chasing win number nine next Sunday to try and keep Nicky Hayden, Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi
and Marco Melandri
above top Bridgestone rider Loris Capirossi
in the MotoGP
"The Sachsenring is a low-speed edge grip circuit," confirmed Michelin's motorcycle racing director Nicolas Goubert. "It is the only place where the 250s could lap faster than the 500s. That was a few years ago, around the original short circuit, but that track wasn't so different to the current layout. For sure it's not one of our favourite circuits because it is pretty slow, it's a bit of a shame to see 250 horsepower motorcycles riding around what resembles a go-kart track!"
However, although the Sachsenring is one of MotoGP's slower circuits, it still features one of the season's most dramatic corners: Turn 12 is a blind, adverse-camber right-hander that is attacked in fifth gear at well over 200km/h.
"The Sachsenring does feature some fast, interesting corners and is quite challenging for us," conceded Goubert. "The circuit is fairly demanding on tyres because the bikes spend a lot of time leaned over through all the long corners, so it demands a lot from the edge of the tyres.
"That is what makes the Sachsenring different – traction is important here but not as important as edge grip. The rear gets the biggest workout, the layout isn't so tough on front tyres because there isn't much heavy braking or trail-braking into corners. There are one or two heavy braking zones, but the top speeds are low.
"The circuit is also quite asymmetric with ten left -handers and only four rights. It is similar in that respect to Valencia and Phillip Island which are also anti-clockwise circuits, though Valencia and Phillip Island are more asymmetric than Sachsenring. The other two particularly asymmetric tracks we go to are Estoril and Shanghai. Even though the Sachsenring's many left-handers put a lot of heat into the tyres it isn't a really high-wear circuit. I would say it's a medium circuit for tyre wear.
"We never expect lap speeds to increase dramatically at this track, even though the extra edge grip offered by our 2006 rear slick should help. The layout makes it difficult to get big improvements in lap times because the many left-handers work the left side of the tyres so hard, plus most of the corners interlink, so improving speed out of the corners doesn't win you a lot of time down the next straights, as is the case at many racetracks.
"Rain is always a possibility at this race but the fact that the track is very undulating means that it drains quite well, so you don't get large areas of deep standing water," concluded Goubert.
First free practice for the German Grand Prix takes place next Friday.