Michelin’s midpoint on the three-week back-to-back tour around the Pacific Rim sees MotoGP™ head to Phillip Island for the Pramac Generac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix and an event which witnesses the unique situation of a tyre test being conducted in the midst of the race weekend.
Phillip Island with its 4,448m strip of asphalt perched atop the cliffs overlooking the Bass Strait – a stretch of sea separating Tasmania from the state of Victoria on the Australian mainland – is one of the most demanding racetracks on the MotoGP calendar. The anti-clockwise layout of the track with is seven left- and five right-hand corners places the tyres through huge demands due to the stresses placed upon the rubber and the needs to control the high temperatures that are generated from this abrasive circuit. A quick warm-up is also a must at this time of the year, as the cooler weather that can be experienced can lead to the sides of the tyre cooling off very suddenly. With all these requirements the MICHELIN Power Slick tyres have a unique range of compounds specifically designed for this exacting circuit. The so-called ‘Phillip Island’ tyres meet the expectations of the riders and their respective machines, enabling them to push to the limit with complete confidence. Available in soft, medium and hard for the front and rear, this is one of only three times this season when the whole allocation with be asymmetrical – the others being Sachsenring and Valencia – with the harder side at this event appearing on the left to contend with the extremes that are placed on that edge of the tyre.
With its position above the sea and the time of year in Australia – it’s early Spring – Phillip Island is prone to wind and wet weather. If any precipitation hits the track then the MICHELIN Power Rain tyres will be available. This allocation is equally designed to meet the particular needs of the circuit and will be available in a soft and medium symmetric for the front, with an asymmetric soft and medium for the rear, again with a harder left-hand side.
Phillip Island will also witness a first, as Michelin will conduct a new tyre test during the racing weekend. The new specification rear, as tested at Barcelona, Brno and Misano, will be evaluated at the Australian circuit to give Michelin the opportunity to assess this latest evolution of tyre – which has a new construction and is designed to improve performance – at a circuit that places high demands on the rear tyre. Each rider will have one of these tyres available in either a soft or medium compound specification and will be required to test them in a separate 20-minute session which is scheduled to take place at 15.55hrs local time on the first day of the Australian Grand Prix – weather permitting. The times recorded will not count towards qualification and the tyres can only be used in this mandatory test session and will not be available for any other practice sessions, qualifying, warm-up or for the race. The new specification is designed for the 2020 season and following evaluation of the data collected at Phillip Island, a decision will be made in Clermont-Ferrand as to whether to add it to next year’s allocation. This new tyre for the test will be asymmetric in design to match the demands of the circuit – the same as the tyres in the race allocation – with a harder left-hand side and will feature the compounds specifically designed to combat the huge stresses the tyres are placed under at Phillip Island, every rider will be requested to do a minimum of 11-laps and will be able to pair this test tyre with a front MICHELIN Power Slick from the specifications available to them at the Australian track, this extra front will not come from the riders’ allocation for the weekend and will be supplied separately to the usual allowance. The one-off test was initially proposed to the riders by Dorna and IRTA during the recent race weekend at the Michelin Grand Prix in Aragon and was voted for unanimously by all present at the Riders’ Commission, so much is the desire of the MotoGP field for the introduction of this new rear tyre construction for 2020.
Michelin and the MotoGP racers will take to the track on Friday 25th October for two Free Practice session and the one-off tyre test. Saturday has further practice ahead of Qualifying, when grid positions for the main event will be decided. Sunday’s 27-lap is round 17 on this season’s calendar and the championship’s most southerly race is scheduled to get underway at 15.00hrs local time (06.00hrs CEST, 05.00hrs BST, 04.00hrs GMT/UST).
Piero Taramasso – Michelin Motorsport Two-Wheel Manager:
“After three years as the Michelin Grand Prix it will seem strange to come to Phillip Island without our name all around the circuit, but that doesn’t mean we will be taking the event lightly. This is still a huge race for us as it is one that puts our tyres under extreme inspections to produce the grip, durability, consistency and performance that this circuit demands. We bring a unique selection of compounds for here and they have very specific tasks, not just for all I have mentioned, but they have to cope with the weather that Phillip Island can bring. This is a challenge we relish and look forward to what can be achieved.
“We also have the added responsibility of an additional stand-alone test for the proposed 2020 rear tyre. We have had successful feedback so far, but need to asses it at a track with high demands, such as here, Sachsenring or Termas. It was not possible to do a full test at any of those venues, so we have a short window to test during this race weekend, for which we are grateful to the riders, Dorna and IRTA for making it happen. It is a very important test as it marks the next evolution for the MICHELIN Power Slick in MotoGP.”