The start of MotoGP 2023 was sparkling. The advent of the Sprint on Saturday gave entertainment, but also controversy due to the aggressiveness put on the track by the protagonists. However, the increase in performance was also remarkable, with the Portimao track record being beaten by over 1″5 and the race distance record by a good 14″.
Even though the bikes appear to be much faster than they were 12 months ago, the Michelin tires performed very well in the Algarve, allowing the riders to push from start to finish during the Sprint, but also providing excellent handling in the long race. Sunday. The goal for Piero Tmarasso, manager of the French company in the premier class, is clearly to try and confirm himself also in Argentina, where the second round of the season will take place this weekend.
“In Argentina the situation will be different, because we didn’t test there and it’s a really special circuit. It’s always very dirty, because they use it very little and we don’t know what condition we’ll find the asphalt in on Friday. Furthermore, the surface is very abrasive and generates high temperatures on the tyres. Then with the new format there will be little time to put the bikes in order and make the right choices,” said Taramasso.
“So a much more demanding weekend awaits us than in Portimao, because there will also be a few degrees more from a climatic point of view. However, we hope it will be simpler than last year, when the GP was concentrated on just two days to the delay in the arrival of the teams’ material from Mandalika. Despite this, the tires had performed well, because Aleix Espargaro had come really close to the track record in qualifying. If the bikes are confirmed as fast as in Portugal, we hope to beat him this year,” he added.
At the rear from this year there are only two solutions: which ones did you choose for Termas de Rio Hondo?
“Conventionally we will call them medium and hard, but in terms of compound they correspond to last year’s soft and medium. These are the two specifications that were used the most in 2022, so we decided to propose them again. In this case both solutions are symmetrical , because the stresses that the Argentine track offers are more or less similar on the right and on the left”.
What about the front instead?
“We confirmed the hard and soft we used last year, while we decided to change the medium. It’s a new compound that we tried during the tests, both in Sepang and in Portimao, which between hard and medium standard in terms of characteristics. It will therefore be the first time that we will propose it in a race weekend”.
Piero Taramasso, Michelin
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Do you think that on Saturday in the Sprint we will see everyone with the medium tire on the rear or could someone even try to do it with the hard?
“On paper, the medium should be able to do both the Sprint and the long race, even easier than in Portimao. So I think we’ll see everyone moving towards the medium on Saturday afternoon.”
Taking a step back to last weekend, I’d say things went pretty well in Portugal…
“Portimao was a good weekend, which was certainly facilitated by the two days of testing we had 15 days ago. The bikes were already quite in place, also because the tires were of the same specifications that we had brought to the tests, so we already had enough data and everything went smoothly.”
But it almost seems that a but is about to come…
“With the new format you have to work in a different way than before, faster. There’s a little more stress on Saturday, but also on Friday, because you have to set times both in the first and second practice sessions. the biggest news is the Sprint on Saturday, which was quite eventful and spectacular. And I must say that it is also very important from a data point of view”.
Let’s dive deeper into this concept…
“After a 12-lap race you can really assess the grip of both the front and rear tires and make a more objective assessment in view of the long race on Sunday. As you may have seen, many have changed the rear, going from soft to medium. But two confirmed the soft tire (Raul Fernandez and Nakagami) and were happy at the end of the race. Indeed, they said that going back they would make the same choice again”.
However, on Saturday it was clearly seen that the soft tire can easily last for the entire Sprint. Or at least that was the case on the Portimao track…
“The nice thing is that everyone pushed from start to finish. Someone accused a small drop, but if we look at the times, they’re really very constant. And this doesn’t only apply to the Sprint, but also to the Sunday race. In fact, the long race was 14 seconds faster than the previous record.”
Also in qualifying the track record was broken by more than 1.5. Did you expect such a big increase in performance?
“It’s a lot. In the past we’ve never had such significant increases and I admit that we didn’t expect it. Also because there was wind both on Saturday afternoon and on Sunday and this bothered the riders quite a bit, yet they were very fast. But they didn’t we didn’t even expect to see on the track in qualifying and in the Sprint all three specifications that we had brought to the front.Usually it’s easier to happen with the rears than with the fronts, but it’s a good indication, because it means that the Our tires are able to accommodate all driving styles and all types of motorcycles”.
Piero Taramasso, Davide Tardozzi, Ducati Team Team Manager
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images