Michelin begin their third season as the sole tyre supplier to MotoGP at the opening race in Qatar after three positive pre-season tests.
Whilst this is becoming familiar to the French factory, there are some important changes for the upcoming season.
Whilst the Qatar race remains the only race completed under floodlights, this year sees the meeting take place as a day/night weekend. Traditionally, the Qatar round took place over 4 days with all sessions completed under floodlight conditions. However, from 2018 onwards it will fall in line with the other races and take place over three days. This means that a number of practice sessions each day will take place in the daylight. However, qualifying and racing will take place after sunset.
As well as changes to the format, MIchelin will introduce coloured bandings to their different tyre compunds. This means that the different options will be more easily identifiable by viewers throughout the race. These will be white for soft, no band for medium and yellow for hard.
For the Qatar round, Michelin will supply tyres in soft, medium and hard compounds for both the front and rear. In addition, the rear tyre will feature an asymmetric design with a harder right-hand shoulder to tackle the extra turns that go in that direction and add increased stresses to that side of the tyre.
As well as these tyres, a wet weather option will also be available to teams if the need arises. At the pre-season test, the track was artificially wet in order to simulate wet weather racing. This proved successful and if Race Direction declare a wet weather race, tyres are ready to be used.
Piero Taramasso – Michelin Motorsport Two-Wheel Manager:
Regarding the first race, the surface at Losail is very abrasive so we have brought a selection of tyres to cope with that, we learnt a lot during the three-day test as to what to expect between the day to night changes, so we believe we have the right tyres to manage all situations. The asphalt will obviously have a lot more grip as both Moto2™ and Moto3™ will be there, so the track will have more usage. We are really looking forward to racing again and we’re expecting a promising start to the season.