MotoGP is ready to face the second stage of the trilogy, returning to Japan after three years of absence. This means that for Michelin it will be the debut of the rear chassis introduced in 2020.
The MotoGP has entered its hottest phase and the hat-tricks don’t give enough time to rest on our laurels. After successfully archiving Aragon Grand Prix Enea Bastianini In the Ducati family’s duel with Pecco Bagnaia, the two-wheeled circus has already left for Japan.
After three years of absence, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related travel restrictions, we are back to racing in Motegi. The track has always been demanding on tyres, but this year brings with it a few pitfalls, since since 2019, Michelin has changed the design of the rear tires, so it comes with fewer references than usual, as director Piero Taramasso explained to us.
“Motegi is a ‘stop and go’ circuit. There’s some pretty heavy braking, so the front tire will be compressed a lot, although we certainly won’t find the same temperatures we had in Misano and Aragon. The central portion of the rear tire will also be there. “It’s under a lot of pressure, precisely because there’s a lot of acceleration. But the biggest unknown is we haven’t raced there since 2019, so we don’t know in what conditions we’ll find the track,” Taramasu told Motorsport.com.
“Furthermore, it will be the first time we race in Motegi with the new rear chassis that we introduced in 2020. It is a solution that should provide more grip than in the past, and also help the riders stop the bike better in phase,” he added. Braking is a very important aspect on the Japanese circuit so we expect an important step in terms of feel and performance.”
Installing Michelin tires
Photo by: Gold and Goose / motorsports pictures
So what kind of choices did you make to return to Japan?
As for the front, the rear soft and medium are the same in 2019, while we have taken a step towards hardness with hardness, because we know bikes are stressing more on the front now than they did three years ago. As mentioned for the rear, the most important novelty is the new carcass, which will be available in all three solutions. At the vehicle level, we emphasized soft and hard. As for the means, the compound also changes: we chose a little bit of strength on the left side, because last time we noticed a drop in that side.”
Motegi is a circuit where records set with Bridgestone tires still stand…
“We really want to beat them, because they don’t belong to us yet. Last time we were so close, but we still couldn’t do it. So for Michelin, it would be nice to end the weekend with these records too.”
Even if it is not easy, because the weather forecast does not seem particularly permissive at the moment …
“Unfortunately, it looks like it could rain on Friday and Saturday, so the forecast at the moment is not very good, even if it looks like we at least avoided the hurricane danger that has been a concern in recent days. But there in Motegi I find it hard to remember the weekends. Good week, it’s easier to find cloudy skies, maybe a little rain and relatively cool temperatures. It’s also true that in 2019 we went in late October and this time instead in September, but we don’t know if it will be enough to improve the climate.”
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team, Pneumatic Michelin
Photo by: Gold and Goose / motorsports pictures
The hat-trick started with the Aragon Grand Prix and over the weekend your tires seem to have given very positive feedback…
“At Aragon we did very well from a tire point of view, because all the records were broken: best pole, fastest lap and race distance. A bit like in Misano, since Friday we have immediately understood what the best solutions are, Namely the solid front and rear medium, which was then used by everyone in the race.The front provided good grip and support, while the rear also ensured good symmetry Indeed, in addition to grip, times were good until the end of the race.But we weren’t surprised by this, because In the end the selection was the same that was already made in 2021.”
There are also two factors that helped this performance, right?
“The track had a good development over the weekend. It was especially dirty on Friday, but then it got clean day by day and there were more and more flat tires. But I have to say the teams did a good job also with the tuning of the bikes, not Only in terms of setup, but also in terms of electronics.I think that was a key point: It was important to work on the electronics to limit the spin, because the tires skid a lot on Friday with little track grip.But between the teams’ work and the track they improved, it wasn’t The level of wear in the race is dramatic. In the end there was still some compound, so the tires could have done a few more laps. In fact, the race duration was 9 “faster than in 2021”.
There were no complaints either, but I know there is something you want to stress particularly in this regard…
“No one in both Misano and Aragon, as might happen at the beginning of the year, complained about overheating or pressure of the front tire. With the pressure on the front, there were also very high temperatures. That means they understood how to control these factors, but Above all, it is possible to do so.”