Michelin will bring down the curtain on over 30 years of grand prix racing at Valencian on Sunday, after the final race of the 2008 MotoGP season and the last before the sport switches to a one-make tyre format.

Michelin - which has contested motorcycle GP racing since the early 1970s, winning 26 premier-class world crowns since 1976 and scoring 360 elite-class GP victories - has only won three of the 17 races this season, but boasts a great record at Valencia, winning all but one of the nine premier-class GPs staged at the Spanish track.

"Valencia has always been a good track for us," says Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. "We know the circuit very well because over the years we have done a lot of testing and racing there, so we have a lot of data."

Despite its imminent withdraw, Michelin has maintained strong support for the six riders still using its rubber.

Whilst the top three positions in the 2008 riders' championship have already been claimed by Bridgestone competitors (third placed Dani Pedrosa switching brands after Brno), Michelin's remaining riders have taken podium finishes at four of the last five rounds, with either Jorge Lorenzo or Andrea Dovizioso set to claim fourth in the standings and the rookie of the year crown this weekend.

Weber insists it will be business as usual at Valencia.

"Valencia will be another race for us," he said. "As always we will focus on the race, still working to provide the best tyres for our riders, still 100 per cent involved in trying to win on Sunday."

And Michelin would dearly love to embarrass the MotoGP authorities by winning the final 'open tyre' premier-class grand prix, something Bridgestone - which will supply the full field next season - aims to prevent happening.

"We go to Valencia with an incredible 14 wins by riders using our tyres this year and having already confirmed a one-two in the championship thanks to Valentino and Casey's successes over the season," said Bridgestone Motorsport's Hiroshi Yamada.

"We have only taken victory in Valencia once previously with Troy Bayliss and Ducati back in 2006. Loris finished second in that race and enabled us to take our first ever one-two race result. Last year, Dani was very strong and dominated the event, but Casey and John both took podium results on our tyres, which was a good result.

"We hope to return to winning ways at Valencia this weekend, which will be the final race with tyre competition before we enter a new phase next season as sole tyre supplier in the championship.

"Our rivals will naturally want to conclude the season with a strong result, so we will surely face a big challenge this weekend," he predicted.



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