Michelin’s trick for Losail

If MotoGP were an orchestra, Piero Taramasso, Michelin’s head of the GGPP would be its director. One can perfectly imagine him with a baton entering a section, regulating the times or demanding more intensity. Because in MotoGP, the French tire manufacturer is the one who sets the times.

Losail has always been a very critical circuit with the tires. The combination of an asphalt that needs to be replaced -after the second GP, some pharaonic works in this regard will begin- and the inevitable sand that is deposited on the surface have generated in recent years a sandpaper effect on the Michelin rubber.

The races became more of a competition to see who was the best manager of their tires.s than in a duel to establish who was the fastest. “I think this year it won’t be like that,” Piero explained to us at Losail before the start of the second day of practice for the Qatar GP. And when Taramasso says “I believe” it can be taken for granted.

“This year we reconsidered the characteristics of the tires that we should bring here. What we have done is raise the hardness of the compounds one notch. This year’s soft option is last year’s average, while last season’s average is now hard. That is why I think there will not be as much tire problems at the end of the race as in previous races. “

Namely, a simple change of nomenclature should be enough to modify the race dynamics of the last GP held here. “The soft from before gave the riders a lot of confidence and grip, who chose it despite being aware that performance would drop after five laps. And after the race they complained and criticized. The tires we have brought in today are more stable. It is a philosophy that we will apply to other circuits where the same situation occurred last year ”.

For Taramasso, the sand deposited on the Losail asphalt is not a particularly significant problem.. “If it were, the drivers would not be riding at the times they are doing it. The problem appears when the pilots go off the trajectory; There, yes. There is a line of 20/30 centimeters in which there is a lot of rubber deposited and the grip is good; Outside of this line there may be grip problems. “

Roll the Losail for so many days and sometimes at temperatures up to 45º -a uselessness considering that at night it runs with 20º less- it has served the Michelin technicians to do the tests that they could not do in the suspended Sepang tests in February. In the extreme conditions of Qatar they have had time to recreate the conditions that will have to be found in Malaysia and Thailand in the second half of the championship. That’s called seizing the opportunity.