Silverstone: A Ride To Remember
Silverstone is the darling of circuits, to MotoGP as well as Formula 1 Grand Prix. It may very well be due to its history – especially being the very first raceway to have hosted a MotoGP event on British soil. What aids the sentiment is that the United Kingdom has produced some of the best riders in the history of MotoGP.
Silverstone will this year once again host the much loved and long awaited British MotoGP event, running from August 25 to August 27.
Challenges Unique To Silverstone
Silverstone also poses a fair amount of challenges, one of which is also its best attribute: it lends itself to speed. Not run of the mill, faster than usual, over the limit speed. Rather the treacherous, technically challenging and potentially fatal kind. It’s one of the fastest tracks on the MotoGP calendar and offers riders the chance to really let loose and unleash the full extent of horsepower available to them on the 5.9 kilometre circuit.
A monster of this nature pushes down full-force on, you guessed it, the tyres. Add to the death defying speeds a good measure of bizarre weather, gale force winds, fast fluctuating temperatures and torrential rain and you have one of two recipes in the making: absolute thrill or certain disaster.
French tyre manufacturer Michelin is (thankfully) no newcomer to this particular challenge. Manufacturing a set of tyres able to withstand the extreme fluctuations in temperature when rubber meets track under the conditions at a circuit like Silverstone is no longer a science: it is an art.
In line with MotoGP regulations, riders have 3 sets of tyres to choose from – 3 options for the front and 3 options for the rear. The rear tyres are all asymmetrical, with a harder right side, and the front a soft compound. Rain tyres are a different ballgame altogether, manufactured in soft and ultra soft compound – and all symmetrical.
Michelin manager Piero Taramasso says that it is the potentially fatal combination of speed, rain and technical cornering that keeps the manufacturer on its toes. Michelin has designed the tyres used by the riders at Silverstone especially for racing under conditions specific to Silverstone.
He went on to say that it is especially the lack of elevation that makes Silverstone unique. The little to no elevation creates the situation where wind can be a real issue. Besides for the obvious danger that wind holds for a rider on a motorcycle, it also cools the asphalt down to very low temperatures. The tyres in turn, run into multiple digit degrees, and must be able to bend to the 10-right, 8-left cornered will of the Silverstone beast with ease.
Considering that human life depends on the safety of this particular design, it’s certainly not a challenge for the faint of heart.
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