The first Pacific-Asian round of the MotoGP 2017 season kicks off this weekend in Japan, as teams and riders prepare for the famous Motegi Twin Ring circuit.
Current leader Marc Marquez holds a 16-point advantage heading to Japan, and a circuit at which he secured the title in 2016. He is being chased down by the impressive Andrea Dovizioso on the Ducati, and Maverick Vinales of Yamaha who needs to work hard to make up the 28 point deficit. The trio finished in that order at Motegi in 2016.
Motegi is’t a particularly severe circuit when it comes to tyres, although the stability of Michelin’s allocation will be tested on the high speed straights and in the numerous hard braking areas.
Symmetric soft, medium and hard front Power Slicks will be available at Motegi, while the asymmetric rears will feature a harder right-shoulder compound to cope with the larger number of right-handers. The compounds of all these tyres were especially selected to meet the specific demands of the Japanese track. Poor weather can never be ruled out there at this time of the year, either. If the conditions do turn out to be wet, the riders will be able to choose from symmetric soft or medium front Power Rains, and symmetric extra soft or soft rears.
Piero Taramasso, Michelin Motorsport 2-Wheel Manager commented:
“As we head towards the business end of the season – where the title will be decided – we have one of the biggest tasks we have to undertake all year. The three fly-away races present a massive logistical operation and we have already sent over 70% of the tyres we will have to allocate by sea-freight and the rest we will send by air. It is never easy trying to guess what the conditions will be like, especially in Australia, but we have some good experience from last year and that will make sure we are prepared for most things – unless it snows.
The first race in Japan is on a track that can create extreme stresses, especially with it’s hard braking zones such as 90-degree turn, so we need to have tyres that can cope with these, as well as having good warm-up properties as it can be quite cold at Motegi in the mornings. The track has good grip levels and we will be taking the tyres that we are sure will perform at the best levels and ensure the show is as good as it has been all season so far.”