2006 MotoGP Championship - Round 13 - Sepang, Malaysia - September 8/9/10 - Coverage by MCNEWS.COM.AU
|The 2006 MotoGP World Championship
moves closer to its climax at the Malaysian Grand Prix, the first of
three back-to-back flyaway races that will play a crucial role in
deciding who gets to wear motorcycling’s most sought after crown.
With fives races remaining, four Michelin men lead the hunt for the 2006 MotoGP title: Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin), Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin), Valentino Rossi (Camel Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) and Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda RC211V-Michelin). These four riders have won ten of the 12 races so far this year, Michelin’s nine MotoGP riders filling 30 of a potential 36
Michelin has won 12 of the 15 premier-class GPs staged in Malaysia at three different tracks – Sepang, Shah Alam and Johor. Sepang, which joined the GP calendar in 1999, is a venue much visited by MotoGP teams, who regularly use the circuit for winter test sessions.
MICHELIN’S RESPONSE TO THE CHALLENGE OF SEPANG
“This will be a very interesting race for us because we were disappointed with our results at Sepang last year,” says Nicolas Goubert, Michelin’s motorcycle racing director. “The 2005 race was strange, less than two seconds faster than the previous year’s, because track conditions weren’t so good. Sepang is like that, the grip character can change very quickly and for no apparent reason, even though the surface looks the same and the temperature stays the same. At last year’s race the grip level was much less than during preseason testing, when we were very fast. This year’s preseason testing didn’t go quite so well for us at Sepang, partly because the bikes weren’t as ready as they had been in 2005, so we weren’t able to do so many long-distance runs. But maybe that means we will have a better race this time!”
“Sepang has been a very popular test track ever since we first went there in 1999. The reasons for this are straightforward: it’s a challenging circuit, with similar weather conditions throughout the year and it’s quite close to Japan.”
“The track isn’t one of the most aggressive for tyres, but it is quite demanding, with high track temperatures, long straights, some heavy braking and many long right-handers which put a lot of heat into the right side of the tyres. The front tyre is very important at Sepang because it’s a verywide track, so the corner entries are quite long. This should be good for both our new front tyres – the wider profile tyre and the narrower profile with new construction – because these tyres give better grip and more feel during the crucial corner-entry phase. Our 2006 rear should also help because its bigger footprint delivers improved edge grip which is particularly important through Sepang’s longer corners. So I think we should be quicker than last year. The big question is how strong our competitors will be.”
“We are now entering the final phase of the 2006 World Championship with four of our riders at the top of the championship. This moment of the season is always very exciting for everyone, including us, because the fight between the different riders and teams becomes even more intense. Our riders and the teams inevitably become even more demanding during this period when every championship point counts for so much, but we are used to
this pressure, it is all part of the game, part of the interest.”
• Lap record: Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin), 2m02.993s (162.390km/h-100.904mph)
• Pole position 2005: Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici), 2m 01.731s
• Recent winners of the Malaysian GP
2005 Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici), 43m 27.523s
2004 Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin), 43m 29.146s
2003 Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda RC211V-Michelin), 43m 41.457s
2002 Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin), 44m 01.592s
2001 Valentino Rossi (Nastro Azzurro Honda NSR500-Michelin), 44m 46.652s
2000 Kenny Roberts (Telefonica Movistar Suzuki RGV500-Michelin) 31m 58.102s
(race stopped early due to rain)
1999 Kenny Roberts (Suzuki Grand Prix Team RGV500-Michelin), 44m 56.033s
1998 Mick Doohan (Repsol Honda NSR500-Michelin), race at Johor
1997 Mick Doohan (Repsol Honda NSR500-Michelin), race at Shah Alam
1996 Luca Cadalora (Kanemoto Honda NSR500-Michelin), race at Shah Alam
Michelin MotoGP tyre logistics
The secret behind the success of Michelin’s MotoGP tyres is their all-round performance potential. Logistics, however, are just as crucial in the quest for victory, particularly when races follow on from each other in quick succession. This year's calendar takes teams from Malaysia to Australia and finally on to Japan in the space of just three weeks!
• Michelin provides tyres for a total of 18 MotoGP machines for 9 riders at each race of the 17-round World Championship. Since the beginning of the 2006 season, Michelin runners have claimed 7 pole positions and 10 wins from 12 races. They have also secured 30 podium places from a possible 36.
• For the forthcoming visit to Asia and the Pacific Rim, Michelin's tyres were trucked to the airport in high security convoys. They were then loaded onto secure airfreight containers which left France on the Monday of the week preceding the Malaysian Grand Prix race week. Additional tyres will be flown directly to Australia and Japan. To facilitate stock management and movements, all tyres are identified by bar-codes. The freight containing the tyres and equipment needed for the paddock amounts to between 7 and 8 tonnes. Used tyres are returned to Clermont-Ferrand after each race.
• Michelin’s MotoGP crew totals 16 staff: the programme manager, five engineers, eight fitters, one press officer and one security guard to watch over the tyres at night.
• Michelin takes around 1,000 tyres to each GP.
- Rear tyres (60 per cent).
- Front tyres (40 per cent). Front tyres are available in two profiles: 55 per cent are 'wide' profiles and 45 per cent are 'narrow' profiles.
- 30 qualifying tyres per race for all of Michelin riders.
- The number of rain tyres taken to each race fluctuates slightly as a function of the anticipated climate (slightly more are taken to Phillip Island where the chances of rain are higher). Rain tyres account for around 10 per cent of the total package.
• Michelin’s nine riders generally use between 200 and 300 tyres in the course of a GP weekend. The other 700 tyres allow Michelin to respond to all track and weather conditions.
MICHELIN MotoGP RIDERS 2006
Colin Edwards, Valentino Rossi (Camel Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin)
Nicky Hayden, Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin)
Toni Elias, Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda RC211V-Michelin)
Casey Stoner (Honda LCR RC211V-Michelin)
Makoto Tamada (Konica Minolta Honda RC211V-Michelin)
Kenny Roberts Junior (Team Roberts KR211V-Michelin)