Qatar GP – Michelin preview
Michelin will be heading to the Losail International Circuit for its return to MotoGP™ as the series kicks off under the floodlights at the Qatari track on Sunday 20th March.
Following three informative pre-season tests – including one in Qatar – Michelin has analysed all the data to make its decision as to the best tyres to take to the 5,380km track. The Losail International Circuit is situated in a rocky, desert location and as such the track can be very abrasive at times due to the sand that is blown off the surrounding area. This allied to the usually cooler temperatures that are experienced as the sun sets, all add to the challenges that supplying the optimum tyres for such conditions will present to the French company. The Qatar race will see the introduction of 17” tyres and with a need to have a consistent grip and good durability, Michelin will take three front and two rear tyres to Losail for the race. The soft Power Slick – which will be identified by the white band – the medium Power Slick – which will not feature a coloured band for identification – and the hard Power Slick – yellow band – for the front. Along with the asymmetric soft Power Slick – white band – and the asymmetric medium Power Slick – no band – for the rear. There will be no Michelin Power Rain or Power Inter tyres in use as the riders will not run in wet or changeable conditions under the lights.
Built in less than a year and completed in 2004, the Losail International Circuit is located on the outskirts of Doha – Qatar’s capital city – and has been a regular on the MotoGP calendar since its completion. The first night race was held in 2008 and is staged beneath over 3,000 individual light sources on more than 1,000 structures, all powered by huge generators. This impressive array of lighting is designed to not only light the track, but deflect light away from the surface and then redirect it back, all aimed at avoiding glare from blinding the riders and giving them ideal visual awareness.
Track action at Losail begins on Thursday 17th March when the MotoGP stars will take to the circuit for the first free practice session. Two further free sessions will be held on Friday to decide which riders progress through to which qualifying session – held on Saturday evening. The inaugural race of 2016, and Michelin’s re-introduction in to the exciting arena of MotoGP, will take place at 21.00hrs local time (18.00hrs GMT, 17.00hrs CET) on Sunday 20th March, when the world’s best two-wheel racers will do battle over 22-laps of the challenging Losail circuit.
The Qatar race weekend will also see a Michelin press conference which will be staged at the circuit on Saturday 19th March, with Director of Michelin Motorsport, Pascal Couasnon in attendance, along with Michelin’s Head of Two-Wheel Motorsport Group, Nicolas Goubert and the Manager of the Two-Wheel Motorsport Group, Piero Taramasso, when the three will lay-out Michelin’s plans for the forthcoming season and answer any questions from the assembled audience.
Nicolas Goubert – Head of the Two-Wheel Motorsport Group:
“We are looking forward to the first race, because we have been getting ready for it for over a year. It has been a lot of hard work to get to this position and we are now prepared for competitive action. We are quite confident about heading to Qatar, because we learnt a lot during the test sessions that we had two weeks before the race. The riders were satisfied with the improvements we have made from the beginning of the season, and there was a positive feeling at the end of the test. Having a race at night gives extra issues, where we can encounter lower temperatures and the added difficulty of dew on the surface, plus the wind blast blowing sand on the track, making it quite abrasive and giving it a sandpaper effect, which impacts on tyre wear. Other than that the Losail track is not the most demanding for tyres in general, the toughest part lies between turns 10 and 14, where riders contend with a double left (10 and 11) and a triple right (12, 13 and 14), which is quite a difficult combination, but we have worked hard to give the riders the best tyres for this circuit and we are now excited to get into competitive action.”
Piero Taramasso – Manager of Michelin MotoGP Programme:
“We are all motivated to get back to Qatar and the first round, especially with it being Michelin’s return and the special atmosphere of this night race. We have been preparing for over a year-and-a-half and have worked closely with the teams, the riders and Dorna to provide the best tyres in readiness for the first race. Logistics are very important, because the Qatar event is not the easiest one to manage and all our consignments of tyres and equipment has to be shipped in containers, but we have prepared for that and we’ll be ready for the first race. We are really looking forward to getting back into MotoGP action.”