Roads: Macau GP set to be a tyre battle
The 2016 Macau grand Prix is being billed as a battle between tyre manufacturers, Dunlop and Metzeler. Unlike MotoGP or BSB, there is no control tyre in road racing and the rival manufacturers are keen to secure the publicity their products receive for success in races run on the same type of public roads the bike buying public use.
“Races like Macau are made more special because we don't have to use a single tyre and everyone can get involved in another aspect of the race.” 2015 Macau runner up, Martin Jessopp says.
The Metzeler runner scorched into an early lead 12 months ago before being hauled in and passed by Peter Hickman on the Dunlop shod RAF Reserves/Briggs BMW when Jessopp’s Metzeler rubber started to go off at mid distance.
“I chose the wrong tyre last year.” the Yeovil rider explains.
“We did have the tyre we needed for the job with us but it was in the garage rather than on the bike.”
The 2015 result was a graphic illustration of the determining effect a tyre choice can have on a race result.
“I am a Dunlop fan and always have been.” Hickman says.
“I will choose that tyre every time and we did a full race run in practice and qualifying last year to make sure the tyre we had would last the distance and stick the pace.”
Both Jessopp and fellow Metezeler pilot, Michael Rutter said they were following the same approach after Thursday’s opening practice and qualifying sessions of this year’s race.
“Tyres will be critical this year.” Rutter says.
“We spent a lot of today’s qualifying session trying to get a tyre set up for the race. The tyre we want to use isn’t lasting as it should at this stage so we need to get that sorted.”
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“I think we will be doing 2min 25 second laps consistently in the race so that is what we are aiming for with the tyre life.” he added.
“We have a lot more options to try than last year.” Jessop says.
“It is hotter this year and that could affect tyre life but it won’t affect how I ride the race.”
Only Hickman, John McGuinness and Honda teammate, Conor Cummins are on Dunlop rubber in the top ten after the opening qualifying session but Hickman is confident the conditions will favour their tyres.
“The hotter it is the better it is for Dunlop tyres.” he explained.
“You can’t go as fast at the start of a race as they take longer to warm up and if you try to push you will end up on your ear. But I did 16 laps on the soft tyre we had last year and I knew it would last the distance.”
One thing neither manufacturer has to provide in Macau are wet tyres. The race wouldn’t be run in the damp because of the obvious dangers the circuit poses. In 2012 the race was delayed until Sunday after Saturday’s scheduled event was stopped when rain fell on the Guia circuit during the opening lap.