Piero Taramasso, who spent 30 years in Michelin, half of them in motorsport, is responsible for Michelin Motorsport's two-wheel activities and is in charge of both track and off-road. We contacted him ahead of the MotoE tests at Jerez to discover the French company's innovations for this year.
We first asked him for his opinion on the tyres used in the 2020 season.
“The tyres we used in 2020 gave very positive results. The goal for last year was to introduce newly regenerated and environmentally friendly materials in the tyre compound and at the same time maintain the performance of the previous year and increase stability. In all of last year's races, the riders were unanimous in saying that the front was more stable on corner entry and had more grip than in 2019."
“We used a tyre with a new structure and profile at the rear, identical to the MotoGP one, and with a compound made of these natural, regenerated and biomaterials. The results have been excellent: the riders' opinions have been very positive and, at all the tracks where we had a previous reference, the times have been better (at Jerez, the lap time dropped by 1.5 sec - ed).
Also, the rear tyre used in 2020 was much more progressive than the one from the previous year. The riders had a better feeling for the rear tyre, as they could feel when the tyre started to slide much earlier. This characteristic of the tyre significantly reduced the number of high-sides".
What innovations will you introduce in 2021?
“For 2021 the aim is to further increase the percentage of regenerated and eco-friendly materials in the compounds while maintaining the performance and tyre feel we have achieved so far. So, the profile and structure of the tyres are the same as last year's, but it's the composition of the compound that changes, both at the front and at the rear. We already did a series of internal tests last month at Almeria, which gave good results, so we expect that the solutions proposed will also work well at Jerez”.
“Last year the riders were all very satisfied, and they didn't highlight any particular areas that needed work. However, Dorna had asked us if it was possible to improve the rear tyre's warm-up so that it could reach the correct operating temperature and grip more quickly in the very first corners, even with low track temperatures. The need arose after last year's Le Mans race when track temperatures were particularly low. Thanks to work done in winter, the 2021 rear tyre will come up to temperature much more quickly.
This year, MotoE will run on two brand new tracks: Barcelona and Assen. Both these circuits are very demanding for the tyres, but I am sure that the solutions we have developed will perform very well on both new tracks".
You have repeatedly referred to the use of regenerated and eco-friendly materials in the tyres for the MotoE World Cup; how important is this element for Michelin?
“For Michelin, the MotoE World Cup is the laboratory for the use of regenerated and environmentally sustainable materials in tyre construction. The plan is to increase, year after year, the percentage of these new materials compared to traditional ones, until we have 100% eco-friendly tyres. To give an example of sustainable material, we use rice husks. On the other hand, regenerated materials come from used tyres from which we obtain, through an industrial process, materials equivalent to traditional raw materials to produce new tyres. One of the interesting aspects is that the tyres made in this way can themselves be regenerated, making this process replicable repeatedly. Michelin's goal for 2050 is to produce only tyres from regenerated and environmentally sustainable materials".
Let's go back to the Jerez tests; what work will you be doing during these two sessions?
“During the first test, we will offer the riders a front tyre with a new compound and two solutions for the rear. The riders will try both, make comparisons and tell us which solution they think is best. At the end of the test, we will use the data collected by our engineers and the feedback from the riders to choose the best tyre for the second test and the whole season. In addition to the riders' judgments and comments, we evaluate chronometric performance, grip, stability, wear, and progressiveness during sliding. Certainly, an important parameter that we will take into account is the speed with which the tyre comes up to temperature".
Will the number of tyres you provide for each rider remain the same as in previous years?
“Yes, the number available for each rider remains the same. Last year at Jerez, we provided an extra front tyre, but it was an exceptional case due to the very high temperatures we raced in. We will introduce the possibility of having an extra tyre during qualifying, the Epole, if a rider is stopped during his timed lap. In the event that the red flag is shown due to the crash of another driver, then the driver who was doing his timed lap can return to the pits and have a new tyre for a second attempt".
Michelin will provide the teams with a single type of front and rear slick tyre for the entire weekend at each 2021 event. The allocation that each rider will have at their disposal consists of four slicks for the front and five for the rear. In case of rain, the rider will be able to count on three front and four rear tyres.
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