Michelin is stepping up preparations for 2016 by scheduling an extra tire test in December. The French tire maker has invited the MotoGP factories to spend two days at Jerez before Christmas, testing new front tires in cold conditions, according to GPOne.com.
Three manufacturers have accepted, Ducati, Honda and Aprilia preparing to send their test riders to put in some laps on the latest iteration of tires at the Spanish circuit on 21st and 22nd of December. As the test falls in the middle of the winter test ban period, contracted riders - that is, riders who will be permanent MotoGP entries for 2016 - are forbidden from riding, and only the official test riders can take part. As a result, Michele Pirro will be attending for Ducati, Mike Di Meglio for Aprilia, and Honda will send both Hiroshi Aoyama and Takumi Takahashi.
The main objective of the test is to try out new tires in cold conditions, the situation in which the Michelins are struggling most at the moment. Michelin are keen to collect as much data as possible ahead of the winter break, in order to have tires ready to test at Sepang, and more importantly, at Qatar, where track and ambient temperatures are always relatively low due to it being a night race.
Michelin's biggest problem at the moment is that the riders, used to the relatively forgiving Bridgestone front, are finding it hard to understand where the limit of the front tire is. That has led to a spate of crashes in both private and public testing so far, with nobody immune from the front end lowsides. The data Michelin hopes to collect at Jerez will be used to try to improve that issue. It will also be useful for the factories to gain a better understanding of how the front Michelin works, and work towards a weight distribution and bike set up better able to produce feedback from the front tire.
Testing with the contracted riders resumes again at Sepang, on 1st February.