MICHELIN SEES A LAST CORNER SPIELBERG SENSATION AFTER A 12-LAP THRILLER

2020-08-24 06:42
Michelin’s second visit to the Red Bull Ring in Austria in as many weekend’s saw more drama as Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) took his maiden victory at the inaugural BMW M Grand Prix von Styria after a restarted and shortened MotoGP™ race.

Today’s initial 28-lap race started in overcast conditions, quite opposite to the clear skies and high track temperatures that the Michelin Power Slick tyres had been subjected to in the previous days. With the asphalt reaching above 50°C on Friday and Saturday, the riders had set-up their bikes to get the most from the tyres in yet more extreme conditions, but when the lights changed to signal the start of the race the track temperature was only 36°C, resulting in changes on the grid as riders and teams tried to make informed decisions. Joan Mir (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR) got the holeshot ahead of Pole-setter Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) – who recorded KTM’s first pole in the premier class on Saturday. Mir then took control of the race and looked commanding at the front, closely pursued by Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) and Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), but an incident with Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), which saw him leap off his bike at high speed after a brake issue before it crashed into the fence and caught fire, caused the race to red-flagged and a 12-lap restart was ordered.

Fervent action in the pits then saw many riders change their Michelin Power Slick tyres for what was now a sprint race, this resulted in five of the six specifications making the grid for the restart, with just the hard rear overlooked, as the riders tried to make the best decision as to what combination of tyres would give them the best performance around the 4,318m circuit. As the race started Espargaro took the lead, but was closely chased by a six-rider freight train consisting of Miller – who got to the front on the first lap – Oliviera, Mir, Nakagami, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). As the bikes raced around picturesque Styrian circuit – which the area gave its name to in the title of the event after last week’s Austrian Grand Prix at the same venue – it was obvious the grip provided form the Michelin tyres would play a part as the race neared its climax. This proved to be the case as the lead changed hands on the final-lap between Espargaro and Miler, as the pair swapped places, using the adhesion of the Michelin rubber to the full to extract all the performance as they fought for victory. As they arrived at the last corner neither man yielded and pushed each other wide leaving the door open for Oliveira to take victory on the final turn. It was his first win in the premier class – the 900th such race in the top echelon of two-wheel Grand Prix racing – the result also gave him the position of First Independent Rider and signalled the maiden MotoGP class victory for the French-based Tech 3 team. Miller came home second with Espargaro in third, followed by Mir in fourth and Dovizioso fifth. Alex Rins (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR) came across the line in sixth, closely followed by Nakagami in seventh. Binder was eighth, with Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) ninth and Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) in tenth, championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) finished thirteenth and now leads the table by thirteen-points from Dovizioso after five-rounds of this fourteen-round season

Michelin’s Power Slick tyres were again subjected to some high track temperatures this weekend at a circuit that is already known for the heat that the layout generates, meaning a special construction is used at Spielberg. All weekend the Michelin Technicians analysed performance of the tyres to give the riders and teams of all manufacturers valuable information to assist with the set-up of the bikes. This has been a constant factor for the five races so far this season as unusual weather conditions have been present at every event so far, meaning the skill and knowledge of the Michelin MotoGP team has been tested to the full to find the solutions for all concerned.

Michelin and the MotoGP field will now have a short two-weekend hiatus before heading off on the next three-week, back-to-back tour which will feature a double header at Misano on Italy on the 13th and 20th September – where MotoE will also join the paddock with three races over the two dates – before heading to Barcelona in Spain for the eighth MotoGP race of this shortened season on Sunday 27th September.

Miguel Oliveira – Red Bull KTM Tech 3:

“I felt good and we had no issues with tyre wear on the rear and it worked well. I was glad that the race stopped because it meant I could change my front and I went with the hard and immediately felt better on the braking points and could go quicker, this meant I could push more and was finally able to step on to the first position.”

Piero Taramasso – Michelin Motorsport Two-Wheel Manager:

“We have seen yet another last corner thriller here at Spielberg, but this time there were different protagonists, it shows the strength of our tyres that we are seeing most of the manufacturers battling at the front and all with a chance of victory. All the Michelin team has worked so hard this weekend as this is one of the most difficult tracks we visit and it produces so much stress on the rear tyres that they get very hot – which is why we have a special construction for here – and to then get track temperatures of over 50 was an added complexity that we had to overcome, but we did and all the riders were in a good position ahead of the race. Yet again the weather gods came in to play and the temperature dropped to the mid-30s, so again the Technicians needed to use all their knowledge to support their respective riders and teams to make the correct decision in both the original race and the restart. The tyres performed well in both races, some riders kept the same rubber and some changed during the short break and through the 12-lap race the riders pushed to the maximum, it was almost like a qualifying session, but all the different combinations of tyres worked well. It was disappointing for Mir and Nakagami in the first race, but I am sure their time will come and it was equally as pleasing to have another new winner on Michelin tyres – the third this year – with Oliviera taking victory, it was also very good to see the Tech 3 team take a MotoGP victory, so well done to them. We have a short break now before an extremely busy two weekends in Misano, when we will have two MotoGP races and three MotoE races during the two events, but we will be prepared and ready to face a new asphalt after the Italian track was resurfaced earlier this year.”

Source: Michelin Motorsport

Click here to visit our forums to discuss this story

Headlines