Michelin Indianapolis MotoGP Preview

Michelin ready for the 'Indy' Challenge.

2008 MotoGP World Championship
Michelin preview, round 14
Indianapolis Grand Prix,
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
September 12/13/14

Michelin's MotoGP crew travels to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway aiming to follow up its strong showing at the recent San Marino Grand Prix with another good result. At Misano three Michelin men finished in the top six, Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) taking a brilliant second place.

Indy will be a new challenge for the Michelin's MotoGP riders. The historic 'Brickyard' circuit has never hosted a motorcycle World Championship race, though the tire companies got to know the track during an official two-day MotoGP test session on July 1 and 2. Testing restrictions forbid full-time MotoGP riders from taking part in such pre-event tests, so Michelin was represented by its test riders Erwan Nigon (Honda RC212V-Michelin) and William Costes (Yamaha YZR-M1-Michelin).

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a racetrack with a long and illustrious history. Indy opened for business in 1909 when the circuit was paved with bricks, hence the nickname. The venue is most famous for its high-speed oval car races, most notably the Indy 500, the world's biggest motorsport event, which is why the city has been christened 'Racing Capital of the World.' The venue's first bike GP uses a new track layout constructed through the infield section that leads onto the oval's main straight where bikes will reach 320km/h, around 200mph.

Following Indy, MotoGP continues its out-of-Europe tour with trips to Japan, Malaysia and Australia before returning to the Continent for the season finale at Valencia, Spain, on October 26.

"The Indy MotoGP circuit is unusual, with a fast main straight, heavy braking into the first turn and then a lot of slow corners," says Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. "As a MotoGP track it is very atypical and more complex than we expected. The Turn One fast left-hander isn't too grippy, so after the tests there were discussions about regrinding the surface but it was decided to leave the track unchanged.

"From a tire point of view it's quite tricky because there are quite a few very slow corners, then a triple left at the end of the lap where you need good traction, and also two or three different grip levels during the lap. At the front it demands a construction that gives stability during braking for the first left-hander, but the front also needs to offer good handling for the tighter sections. At the rear, traction is important. One section of the track features low grip and gives more tire wear, while another section is less aggressive on the tires. It's a kind of mix, so we have to find an average that will be most effective throughout the lap. At first we expected to use softer compounds because it's not a fast track with lots of long corners, but in fact it needs medium to medium-hard compounds. During the tests it was very hot, with a track temperature of almost 50 degrees, but we don't expect it to be quite so hot during the race weekend, so we will also need something a bit softer for lower track temperatures."

Track length: 4.216km/2.618 miles
Lap record: new circuit
Fastest time, July MotoGP tests: Niccolo Canepa (Ducati), 1:43.006

Randy de Puniet (Honda LCR RC212V-Michelin) Andrea Dovizioso (JiR Team Scot Honda RC212V-Michelin) Colin Edwards (Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin) Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V-Michelin) Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) James Toseland (Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin)