Updated: More On Friday’s Michelin Tire Test With Robert Jensen And Jeff Haney At Indy

Updated: More On Friday’s Michelin Tire Test With Robert Jensen And Jeff Haney At Indy

© 2008, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By Larry Lawrence.

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Michelin may have fallen behind Bridgestone in the MotoGP tire wars, but the French-based tire manufacturer is turning in extra effort for the September 14th Red Bull Indianapolis MotoGP. Leading club racer Robert Jensen and former AMA Superbike and Grand National flat track racer Jeff Haney tested Michelin tires Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, riding World Superbike-spec Honda CBR1000RRs. Jensen and Haney were the first riders to run on the Indy road course with newly-laid curbing in place. Michelin tested for three days over the Labor Day weekend with three of its European-based test riders on the same Honda Superbikes. In that time the crew tested over 300 tires. Conditions were hot and sunny during the Labor Day weekend testing. Observers say the European riders dipped into the 1:46 bracket during those tests. As a comparison both Ben Spies, on the Rizla Suzuki, and Ducati test rider Niccolo Canepa turned laps in the low 1:43s on MotoGP machines during July tests. Michelin engineers had hoped to test rain tires at Indy on Friday. Rain was predicted, but while the morning was cool and damp, the track was never fully wet. Jensen made only one short session on rain tires in the morning after which he told the Michelin men that the track was drying rapidly and he preferred to switch to slicks. Haney, who has worked with Michelin at tire introductions, went out for a few sessions, but the bike was not set up for a rider of his weight and Jensen did the bulk of the remaining test riding. New curbing installed at Turn Four and Turn 16 [the final turn onto the front straightaway] the day before Jensen and Haney tested, tightened up those corners considerably and made the track slower. Haney said he believes the new Turn 16 configuration will likely make it the tightest corner in all of MotoGP. The new curbing appears to be made of aluminum or some other type of metal. Riders will likely stay clear of riding up on the curbing since it probably won’t provide much–if any–traction. But it clearly serves the purpose of keeping the riders well away from the already distant walls on the outside of both turns. Neither Haney nor Jensen attempted to ride on the curbing. Michelin engineers gained valuable information during the test, especially considering that Friday in Indianapolis was cool and overcast all day. The company now has data on the track in both hot and cool conditions. The Michelin crew was impressed with Jensen. He rode from morning all the way to near darkness at 7:30 p.m. At the end of the day he turned in some race simulations and despite the slower configuration with the new curbing was able to get into the 1:47s. Jensen was scheduled to hop on a plane early Saturday morning in Indianapolis to head to an ASRA National event at Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia.

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