After a stunning debut as MotoGP's official tyre supplier in Qatar, Michelin was forced to change the construction of its rear tyres due to a major problem for Scott Redding in Argentina.

But increasing the robustness also reduced grip. Although several performance improvements were subsequently introduced, the rear is not yet back to Qatar level - when Jorge Lorenzo broke both the lap and race time records on his way to victory.

"At the beginning riders were surprised by the grip available from the rear. Of course, what happened in Argentina made us change the tyre and, especially just after Argentina, the rear didn't have as much grip as before," confirmed Michelin Racing's technical director Nicolas Goubert.

Piero Taramasso, manager of Michelin's Two-Wheel Motorsport Group, added that performance of the new rear construction improved by "one step in Le Mans; it was quite large so the riders saw the improvement. Then we did another step, but we are not yet [back] at the level of Qatar. This is our objective, our goal, to be there. I don't know when, but as soon as possible."

Goubert believes the response to what happened in Argentina - where the outer layer of Redding's tyre became detached in practice, prompting a shorter race distance and compulsory pit stop - at least enabled Michelin to show how 'dedicated' they are to the sport.

"Argentina was not a good event for us and we realised that our rear tyres were not robust enough. But the positive point was that we reacted very, very quickly and within a week we had a tyre robust enough, ready to do the race in Austin," he said.

"I think that everyone involved realised how dedicated we were to the sport, because to be able to build new tyres within a week was very demanding.

"From [Austin] onwards, for safety reasons, we had of course to keep that robust type of rear tyre and when we arrived in Jerez we realised how much it hurt the bike performance.

"We had a lot of criticism in Jerez with riders complaining about a lack of traction with the new construction. Once again we tried to react very very quickly and from Le Mans to Mugello we made steps.

"In Le Mans we beat the lap record in qualifying and the lap times in the race were very competitive. In Mugello the race time was shortened and we went through the summer with a lot of positive results; like Misano, like Brno in the dry and so on.

"Really, for us, Misano and Mugello were as good as Qatar, although they were after [the rear tyre change caused by] Argentina.

"Then finishing the season were the three overseas races, during which we had very unexpected weather. The good point for us was even during the unexpected conditions we had something to offer the teams and riders, to feel confident with.

"Sometimes we were a bit conservative... places like Aragon, maybe Phillip Island or Motegi. The [rear] tyres were a little bit hard. Close to everyone picked the soft tyre, which was not the case up until then. One of the explanations for Phillip Island is the weather. If we had 15-20 degrees more track temperature it would have been different.

"But even after Argentina, in some places we offered very, very good [rear] grip. But it was not consistent over all the venues. Because sometimes you get it right, and sometimes you've got a big margin for improvement.

"That is where we have to work for next season."

Goubert summarised the main changes Michelin will make to its front and rear tyres for 2017 as follows:

"The first thing will be the new front profile. I really hope to confirm the positive results at the two or three tracks where we've already tested it. Once we have fixed the profile we will work slightly on the construction and also the compound, but the compound will be a small adaptation I would say.

"For the rear we will keep the same profile, but already we did some testing in Barcelona with some very different things that we couldn't use this year. We'll continue working on that for our rear construction because it showed good potential."

As well as the change from Michelin to Bridgestone tyres, MotoGP also introduced a single ECU system for 2016.

MotoGP 2016 - new race lap records: Qatar, Misano, Valencia.

By Peter McLaren


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