Michelin front slick has become MotoGP’s limiting element over the course of the past year or two. This is because to an increase in new technology (downforce aerodynamics, shapeshifters, and so on) that has overloaded the tyre, which wasn’t built for stresses of this magnitude in the first place.
As a result of this, there is typically less overtaking in MotoGP because all of the riders are riding at the limit of the front tyre. As a result, if one rider brakes one meter later than another competitor, that rider is very likely to spin out of control or crash.
Once you reach the tyre limit, there is no way to go beyond that limit because the tyres are always the last limit, as the seasoned MotoGP engineer Ramon Forcada says. “Once you arrive at the tyre limit, you cannot go past that limit.”
When cyclists are chasing other riders, the present tyre has a tendency to overheat, which is something that we observed rather frequently at Red Bull Ring.
At a time when many fans are complaining that the race isn’t as exciting as it used to be, the announcement that Michelin is finally going to go ahead with the production of a new tyre to remedy this problem is a significant event for MotoGP.
A French company’s in-house test riders are already evaluating the new slick, and if they give the go-ahead, the tyre will be tried by MotoGP factory test riders – such as Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori, Ducati’s Michele Pirro, Honda’s Stefan Bradl, and so on – during the month of October, while the MotoGP paddock is busy racing in the Far East.
In the event that the riders participating in the preseason testing give the tyre the green light, the MotoGP field will have the opportunity to test the tire during the one-day postseason tests that will take place in Valencia on November 8.
The idea behind the new Michelin tyre is to make it less susceptible to increases in temperature and pressure, which is the problem with the current tyre. The problem with the current tyre is that when a rider catches up to an opponent and gets close to the machine in front of him, the rider’s front tyre overheats and loses grip, which prevents the rider from making an attack. Because of this, MotoGP races typically involve more of a procession than a struggle amongst competitors. In addition, the tire will operate at a lower pressure than the present minimum of 1.9 bar, which will result in improved overall performance.
Piero Taramasso, the manager of Michelin motor sport division, stated at Red Bull Ring that the target pressure is 1.7 bar and that the company’s goal is to produce tires that are less sensitive to variations in both temperature and pressure. The tyre will have a drastically different appearance, as it will have a new profile and be constructed using different materials.
In recent years, Michelin has been criticized for the performance of its current front slick. This is because the additional loads imposed by the most recent technology have swamped the tyre. Taramasso, on the other hand, views the situation from a different point of view.
Taramasso continued by saying, “When you have a control-tyre championship, then the manufacturers have to design their motorcycles around the tyres.” But by adding all of the aero and the gadgets, they aren’t planning their motorcycles around the tyres any longer.
This is a valid point of discussion. There have been a lot of riders and manufacturers who have complained that the Michelin front isn’t up to the machinery, but possibly the reason for this is because the manufacturers have worked against the tyres rather than with the tyres.
Michelin does not know when the new front will be ready to race, but it will not be next year. This is because it takes a lot longer to get front tyres right than it does to get back tyres correct, because front tyres are so much more crucial in every manner.
Until then, Michelin might lower the minimum pressure of the present tire for the 2023 model year. Next year, all machines will be equipped with standard tyre pressure/temperature sensors. As a result, the minimum pressure restrictions will be strictly enforced for the first time, and a little lower minimum will assist bikes in achieving higher levels of performance.
Currently, the vast majority of riders and teams run at tire pressures that are slightly below the 1.9 bar standard. This is because the minimum-pressure guideline isn’t strictly enforced, and they can find better grip by operating at lower pressures.
Taramasso let out that with the tire that they currently use, they can go to 1.8 or 1.7 bar next year. “I’d like to say that next year you can go to 1.8 or 1.7 bar,” he said. However, we can’t go any lower than this. When we first started using this tyre five years ago, the minimum pressure was 2.1 bar, and then we moved to 2.0, and then we went to 1.9…”
It’s possible that MotoGP needs a new front slick even more than it needs sprint races, which is why the development of this tyre is so vital to the championship.
A new slick will also affect the dynamics of the racing, shifting machine balance back towards the front of the motorcycle. As a result, all of the manufacturers will need to do some sort of modification in order to accommodate this change. It is my hope that this will also make racing more enjoyable, in addition to being beneficial to machines and riders who place a greater emphasis on the front tire.
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