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GP Week : Issue 10
Rossi win ties up tyre battle M oto GP news >> DUCATI’S revered engineering chief, the brains behind the Desmosedici GP racers, is easily recognisable in the factory team pit. Filippo Preziosi is the man in the wheelchair. Injured in a road-bike crash, the Italian engineer has overcome his disability to make his mark on racing-engine design, taking the Ducati desmodromic valve system to new heights. Now his engineering achievements have been recognised by Italy’s prestigious Franco Mazzotti Mille Miglia Club Foundation, with presentation of the ‘Courageous Intelligence – Intelligent Courage’ award. The award is not specifically for the disabled, but rewards “talent, inventiveness and foresight” of those who succeed in cultural, scientific and sporting spheres. Ducati engineer honoured WITH Valentino Rossi having dialled his Yamaha in to his new Bridgestones and got back to clear race-winning form, honours are even in the tyre war between Michelin and Bridgestone. Each has taken two wins, all with different riders. The start of the European campaign sees the two giant companies neck and neck, with more of the same in prospect. This in itself represents a massive step forward by Michelin, too often outclassed last season; while Bridgestone also has not stood still. Pole and lap records prove the point. “The performance of both tyre manufacturers is at a very high level, as we have seen by the competitiveness and lap times in recent races,” said Bridgestone’s Tohru Ubukata. “This is the great thing about competition. We must keep up an aggressive rate of development for each and every race,” he continued. Track by track tyre development is essential and highly refined. In the broadest sense this determines the spacing of different compound bands: a clockwise circuit needs harder rubber on the right, and vice versa. But surface analysis of each track’s particular tarmac (technicians take plaster casts home for detailed study) takes the technology further, to special compound mixes to suit the composition of each track. Michelin’s Jean-Philippe Weber explained: “We have to tailor the tyres from one track to another. As well as the amount of right or left corners, it also depends on the nature of the asphalt, which may be more aggressive on the tyre,” he said. New tyre rules this year have banned the use of test teams to pre-test at forthcoming circuits, a technique previously used by Bridgestone especially, to overcome the disadvantage of the distance from their Japan- based factory. France-based Michelin is able to respond more quickly to special European conditions, but were wrong- footed last year with their own development weaknesses. It may prove an advantage this year, though the increased tyre allocation has eased the pressure on tyre choice for all. 13