New MotoGP tyre manufacturer Michelin have had a disastrous start to their return to the sport, having been forced to withdraw the soft option tyre after a horrific crash for French rider Loris Baz.
Baz was thrown from his Avintia Ducati at 180mph when his rear tyre seemed to explode, splitting in two and sending the 23 year old careening down the start-finish straight at Sepang.
Incredibly, he was able to walk away from the horror crash in one piece, and suffered only a small abrasion injury to his elbow; but expects to return to track tomorrow.
“We checked the speed and I was doing 290kph – and I’m really lucky to be here! It was my second run with a new tyre, and going into the last corner I felt something strange – I thought it was the engine or the gearbox, but I ignored it as I just wanted to finish the lap them come in.
“There was no strange feeling or chatter though, so I couldn’t expect everything was going to explode like it did on the straight! I just tried to take the clutch, but you know at that speed you’re going to crash for sure, and there is just time to hope while you’re sliding that you’re not going to hit the wall or anyone coming from behind.”
Michelin immediately withdrew the soft option during the subsequent red flag period, but rumours in the paddock are that they may reintroduce it tomorrow after tonight’s investigations.