Colin Edwards talks early Michelin testing

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Colin Edwards says his early development work with Michelin has been incredibly positive ahead of the French tyre brand becoming the exclusive MotoGP tyre supplier from the 2016 world championship onwards.

The experienced Texan has taken on a test rider role with Yamaha after his retirement from racing midway through last season after a successful international career spanning two decades.

A key part of his new role is to test and develop Michelin tyres, with the French manufacturer taking over MotoGP’s tyre supply deal from Bridgestone for next year.

Double World Superbike champion Edwards has already tried the new rubber in Japan and Malaysia last year.

Edwards is expected to be back in action for a one-day Michelin test for factory test riders only immediately after next week’s first official MotoGP test in Sepang.

That comes in advance of the entire current grid testing Michelin tyres for the first time immediately after the second Sepang test in late February.

And Edwards spoke exclusively to MCN where he gave some initial insight into his early testing schedule with Michelin, who were last involved in MotoGP back in 2008.

The 40-year-old said: “It has been going good and the tyres are great. I went from 17-inch to 16.5 with Michelin and now going back to 17 means the contact patch is a little bit different. The braking style is different but I am old and wise and I’ve adapted pretty well. I think all the guys will adapt no problem and it is just a matter of understanding what you can get away with. But all the stuff Michelin has done has been great. I’ve had new stuff at every test and they are keen.”

Edwards said his early work with Michelin has predominantly focused on the front tyre and he added: “I have tested some rear tyres but now you have so many electronics, so truly understanding what the grip level is can be hard to decipher. The electronics kind of do everything now but the front we have done a lot of work and we have a lot of work to do. Nobody wants these guys at the first test ending on their ass and millions of dollars of damage caused in the gravel.”

One standout quality of the current generation Bridgestone tyres has been its incredible front tyre grip, which has been hailed by the likes of Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez.

So has Edwards noticed a significant different between Michelin’s current product and what he rode with Bridgestone at Forward Yamaha last season?

“The Bridgestone front for me, you go in, you brake and keep hammering the brake and throwing it into the corner and it still works. It doesn’t really matter what you do. For me the front feeling with Michelin was like going back home. It was something that I knew after the thousands of laps I did at their Ladoux test track years ago and running thousands of different tyres. It was like going home in terms of the way the constructions move. With Michelin you can’t just go in and keep hammering the brake. You have to start easing off a bit on pressure once you start tipping over and that’s how it should be. That’s feel and racing. Michelin built a great product, so my idea is make what you have the best it can be and let everybody adapt. They don’t need to be coming in with something we already have. We need to change it up a bit and let’s run the Michelin route instead of trying to build a Bridgestone, “added Edwards, who is testing a factory spec Yamaha YZR-M1.

It has been rumoured that during Michelin tyre testing in Valencia last year that Ducati test rider Michele Pirro was lapping only 0.2s slower than his best pace on Bridgestone.

And Edwards, who has tested twice at the Twin Ring Motegi track in Japan, said: “I went faster than I’ve ever gone around Motegi on Michelins. I can’t say the lap time and that wasn’t even a soft rear. It was a base line tyre that I did a race simulation on. It is true the bike is way better than what I have ever been on but at the same time you have to have that feel and when you have something that works it is easy to go fast.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt