Michelin testing stymied by mystery issue

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New tyre providers Michelin were left fighting exactly what they didn’t want on the opening days of the Phillip Island test as they continue to work to finalise their race tyres – a mystery quality control issue that affected a number of riders.

Complaining of a vibration from the rear of the bike as soon as they started to push the bike – and spooked by Loris Baz’s high speed tumble at Sepang – many quickly aborted fast runs thanks to the mystery problem.

However, after an initial investigation at the track, the French firm believe that the problem was not a quality control issue, but rather a problem caused by transportation or storage – something that has befallen other manufacturers in the past.

Speaking exclusively to MCN, Piero Taramasso, manager of Michelin’s two-wheel motorsport activities, says that they now have to determine exactly what went wrong in order to prevent a repeat later in the year. 

“We had a few problems, and we’re still investigating the problem. It’s strange because it’s the first time we’ve had anything like it – but we’re also confident that it’s not a safety issue.

Maybe it’s the transfer to here, or the way they’ve been stored – so that is also something to look at. But the track here doesn’t help either – it’s bumpy, it was wet and drying constantly – none of which helped.”

The problems that caused Loris Baz’s high-seed fall at Sepang last week seems to have been identified, however, with sources in the paddock suggesting to MCN that lower-than-recommended tyre pressures could have led to the blowout.

And new rules brought in in the immediate aftermath of the Frenchman’s crash should help prevent the issue being repeated, with tyre pressure sensors now mandatory across all classes.

 The rule was originally set to come into effect in to Moto2 and Moto3 classes after similar crashes on their Dunlops in 2015, but will now be extended to the premiere class too.

Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer