Michelin: ‘A new asphalt, again, without any tests’

After MotoGP’s all-new Indian adventure last month, the world championship takes on another challenge in the form of a resurfaced Mandalika in Indonesia.
Mandalika, Indonesian MotoGP, 14 March
Mandalika, Indonesian MotoGP, 14 March

With newly laid asphalt eroding during last year’s inaugural March event, there were serious doubts about whether the Indonesian MotoGP race could go the distance.

But the arrival of monsoon rain proved a blessing in disguise as far as keeping the surface intact and, after 20 laps, KTM’s Miguel Oliveira claimed victory ahead of Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) and Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati).

Another round of surfacing was then needed to repair the damaged track, which is among the most challenging for tyres due to its high speeds and extreme temperatures.

As such, Mandalika joins a select group of circuits where Michelin brings a stiffer, heat-resistant rear tyre construction.

But that special construction, brought to Mandalika after blistering issues in the 2022 pre-season test, caused unexpected (dry) grip problems for some manufacturers during last year’s race weekend.

Ducati and KTM appeared to take a step forward relative to the pre-season test. Yamaha and Aprilia performed roughly the same. But Suzuki and especially Honda struggled for rear grip and, relying more on the front tyre to turn, suffered additional front overheating problems.

Could the cards be shuffled yet again this weekend?

MotoGP has not conducted any testing on the latest surface ahead of the 2023 event, meaning Michelin must again chose its tyre selection based on previous data and experience.

“Mandalika is a very, very demanding track. We will find a new asphalt, again, without any tests,” said Michelin’s Piero Taramasso.

“We did some tests before the asphalt was done, but we know it is a very demanding track where we can face very high temperatures, where the tyres are under stress because of the heat and track configuration.

“Let’s see how it will be this year.”

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