Michelin: Jerez 2020 MotoGP preview

 In MotoGP, News

Michelin and MotoGP™ are gearing up for the start of the 2020 World Championship as the season finally gets underway following the disruption caused by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

The start of Grand Prix racing has been on hold since March due to the deadly virus, but now Michelin and the rest of the MotoGP paddock will be able to get back to competitive action as the season kicks-off with a double header at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto in Spain and gives the fans around the world the opportunity to share in some much needed sporting action, firstly with the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, which will be followed a week later with the first running of the Gran Premio Red Bull de Andalucía at the same venue.

A new MICHELIN Power Slick rear tyre in MotoGP

The first race of 2020 will enable the French company the chance to finally give a debut to its latest evolution of the MICHELIN Power Slick rear tyre in a racing environment following its introduction into the allocation at the start of the year. The new rear slick features a different construction that is designed to give increased grip, performance and an extended durability to all riders and manufacturers. Following a thorough test programme in 2019 and early in 2020 – including a unique session during the Australian Grand Prix last year to evaluate the tyre on one of the calendar’s most demanding circuits – all the data was analysed by Michelin’s technicians at Clermont-Ferrand, along with riders’ feedback, and the new construction was added to the allocation for the 2020 season. It should have made its first appearance at the Qatar Grand Prix, but when racing was suspended it was held in readiness for the resumption of activities

The Jerez circuit will be a unique test for the new construction as temperatures at the Spanish track will be considerably higher than the originally scheduled date in May, but during the enforced break from racing the Michelin Technicians have worked hard on past data from the track and with the aid of computer simulations, have been able to select the best compounds to match the new construction and give optimum performance around the 4,423m circuit, which has had both full and partial resurfacing work in recent seasons. The choice for both weekends of racing will feature the same compounds and will be three front and three rear MICHELIN Power Slick tyres. The range will be available in soft, medium and hard compounds, all the front will have a symmetric design, with the rear featuring an asymmetric finish with a harder right-hand-side to cope with the eight right turns which give extra demands to the tyre, compared to just five left corners, through the track’s configuration. With warm weather and high temperatures expected, there might be little chance of rain, but the MICHELIN Power Rain tyres will be in the allocation if such conditions arise. These will be in a soft and medium compound for both the front and rear, with the rears having an asymmetric design with a harder right-hand-side, whilst the fronts will be symmetric.

Michelin and the rest of the paddock will have to adhere to stringent protocols to make sure the racing goes ahead as safe as possible as far at the virus situation is concerned, with all the new rules and regulations in-place MotoGP will take on a very different look and feel for 2020, one of which will be the initial lack of spectators at trackside, although this might change as the season progresses, but even with the new guidelines, Michelin will be determined to add to the spectacle and give tyres that provide exciting and close racing. This season will witness not only the debut of the latest evolution of the MICHELIN Power Slick rear tyre, but three riders will also make their introduction to MotoGP, as Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and reigning Moto2™ World Champion Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) – brother of six-time MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) – will join the other nineteen racers in a twenty-two rider strong field that will embark on a shortened, but intense season that so far features thirteen races between July and November – all in Europe – with the possibility to add some fly-away races at the end of the year if the situations allow.

Michelin and the MotoGP field will kick-off track action on Wednesday 15th July as the riders will have a test to reacquaint themselves with the tyres and bikes after such a long lay-off. Competitive action will then commence on Friday with two Free Practice sessions; this will be followed by two further sessions on the Saturday ahead of the all-important Qualifying in the afternoon. Sunday’s first Grand Prix of the season will get underway at 14.00hrs local time (13.00hrs BST, 14.00hrs CEST, 12.00hrs UTC) as the latest evolution of the MICHELIN Power Slick rear tyre gets its competitive debut over the 25-lap race. The times for the following weekend’s Gran Premio Red Bull de Andalucía will be the same, although there will be no pre-race test day.

A new range of Michelin MotoE™ tyres that have increased efficient and are more environmentally friendly

During the two weekends in Jerez, Michelin will also be involved in the FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup where the French manufacturer will launch a brand new range of tyres specially designed for the 100% electric Energica Ego Corsa motorcycles.

Michelin Motorsport engineers have extensively redesigned the structure of the rear tyre compared with the 2019 version, with the entire range now benefitting from the introduction of biomaterials and regenerated materials. The use of sustainable resources in the structure and in the rubber compounds has made it possible to push back even further the balances established with the previous range. Michelin’s new tyres for MotoE are therefore both more efficient and more environmentally friendly.

Two practice sessions on Friday and one on Saturday will kick off the new season, before the riders will test each other at the E-Pole on Saturday afternoon. The new MICHELIN Slick MotoE tyres will be available in medium at the front and soft at the rear, both of which are symmetrical. In the event of rain, riders will be able to count on the grip of MICHELIN Power Rain soft tyres at the front and extra soft at the rear, both of which are also symmetrical. The MotoE races will take place on the respective Sunday of each event, with the lights changing to signal the start of the events at 10.05hrs local time (09.05hrs BST, 10.05hrs CEST, 08.05hrs UTC).

Piero Taramasso – Michelin Motorsport Two-Wheel Manager:

“It is an encouraging step-forward that the season can get underway. We had a good start to the year with the tests and finalising the new rear tyre, but then everything was put on hold by the terrible events that unfolded. We now have the chance to go racing and give some much needed relief to the fans after these difficult times.

“With the new calendar some of the races now have different dates than their original ones, and the most noticeable of those is the first one at Jerez. We expect much higher temperatures than we would have had in May, but we have analysed past data and run computer simulations to understand what will be expected and have matched the compounds accordingly.

“The most important thing for us is the debut of the new rear tyre. The construction was verified at the pre-season tests and added to the range for 2020, so this will be the first time we have raced with it. When we returned to MotoGP in 2016 we made sure that we would keep evolving and are determined to push the envelope of performance even further this year. The new rear slick tyre has been designed to work for all riders and machines, and following the last tests in Qatar – where we saw some fast lap-times – we are confident that all manufacturers will have found the best setting to make their respective bikes work to the optimum and give a first-class show for all, with hopefully some new records for Michelin at both the events at Jerez.

“The programme in Jerez is a busy one, as we also have MotoE during the two weekends. This series got off to a good start in 2019 and I’m sure it will continue to progress this season with the contribution of Michelin’s new range of even better tyres. MotoE is a very important competition for our group, which this year is introducing tyres incorporating biomaterials and regenerated materials into the discipline. We are delighted to be the technological partner of a race-series focused on energy efficiency, sustainable mobility and respect for the environment. The 2019 World Cup was marked by some fine sporting battles, which gives us even more motivation at the start of this second season.”

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