Michelin is getting ready to be the spec tyre supplier for MotoGP in 2016 when it replaces the current supplier, Bridgestone. The major change being in the tyre size where the 2016 tires will be 17 inches as against the present 16.5 inches, however, the tyres Michelin will be using in 2016 will have the more or less the same outer circumference of the Bridgestone's.
After the first test at Sepang early this year, Michelin came back to testing at Mugello this time around with improved tyres. All the team riders were present for the test which was scheduled just after the Mugello race, however, the Suzuki Factory Ecstar team was absent due the Aleix Espargaro still suffering from thumb injury while Maverick Viñales being in his debut season could not have fared much at the testing. Andrea Iannone had also skipped the Michelin test as he had gone back home to recover from his collection of injuries.
Just like last time around, No official timings were recorded or declared due to sensitive commercial reasons and the riders were also not allowed to talk to press about the same. This is understandable as Bridgestone and Michelin does not want to have any quality or engineering comparisons with each other, Bridgestone having invested big in PR to like any dent in its image in its final year of supplying to MotoGP while Michelin not wanting any negative PR due to still under development tyres for 2016.
All this aside, still a few small things have percolated through the few journalists at were present at the test. At the test Michelin had come with a collection of four tyres for the factory riders to test on. The morning and the early afternoon session were spent by riders in selecting the tyres they had liked, the plan of the field was to test the tyres in race simulation but the plans were dropped by all after a series of crashes on long race distance trials by riders, though there have been no crashes in the morning and the early afternoon sessions.
Among the crashers were, Lorenzo, Marquez and Rossi where Lorenzo fell at the Materassi corner, Marc Marquez crash landed at the Arrabbiata 1 during his second lap and just after the debris of his crash were cleared, Valentino Rossi followed the other two riders to crash at Correntaio. All these crashes were good enough a reason to abandon all the remaining race simulations. Interestingly, all the three riders fell due to vastly similar crashes in their patterns with each other at Mugello test and also with the crashes the participants of the Sepang test had suffered.
It is being reported that whenever the riders start to push hard, the Michelin rear tyres provide an extra drive and a higher grip which causes the front to lose and hence wash away resulting in the crash. The hush hush voices from the strictly contained paddock have known to quote that the Michelin Rear tyres a fantastic with a better grip than the Bridgestone's, however the front tyre from Michelins lack the sheer brilliance of the Bridgestone's. There has been an improvement from the Sepang test, but the Michelin fronts are still some time and development away to be suitable for racing.
It also needs to be understood that all the bikes on the grid are entirely designed on the foundation of the data that they have gathered during years of Bridgestone supply, thus all the parameters like the suspension settings, chassis geometry and stiffness might not suit the Michelins meaning that the huge amount of work will go into the tyres and the prototype bike designs to get the best performance out of the Michelins in 2016.