Donington Park Review

Donington has hosted GPs since 1987, taking over from Silverstone, which became Britain's World Championship venue after the notorious Isle of Man TT circuit was deemed too dangerous for GP racing in the mid-1970s.

Donington Park is dominated by fast, sweeping corners that crucially interlink with each other. Through these sections a fluid riding style and high corner speed are much more important than brute horsepower. But just to complicate matters, the Melbourne loop section (added in 1986 to bring the venue up to minimum GP length) features three dead-stop turns where last-gasp braking and vicious acceleration are all-important. Getting a MotoGP machine to work through these two contrasting segments requires engineers to find a compromise in chassis settings and tyre choice.

"Donington is a real challenge because the two sections of the track are very different, demanding different things from the tires," says Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. "Through the faster part riders need good maneuverability for the high-speed direction changes and good stability, especially through the longer corners like Hollywood and Coppice. For the slow part they need good traction. The track is also very asymmetric, with very few left-handers, so tire warm-up, especially on the left side is crucial

"We use a medium range of rear tires at Donington because the tarmac isn't so aggressive, because riders need good traction out of the slow turns and because there's not a lot of long corners where riders are using a lot of throttle for long periods of time, much of the track is part throttle. We know from our experience what to do with compounds and constructions to offer more stability or more traction. All tracks demand some kind of compromise between these two, though Donington requires quite a big compromise.

"We also use medium range fronts at Donington because although there's some heavy braking it's not from super-high speeds and riders certainly don't need harder fronts like they did at Mugello and Catalunya, which both place much greater stresses on the front tire.

"This track isn't so easy, however, especially when you throw in the extra factor of unpredictable weather. Sometimes we get good weather at Donington, other times it's very cold and wet, so we have to produce tires that cover a large range of temperatures. Also, we have to consider the likely temperature changes during the day. There could be a big difference between the morning and afternoons session temperatures, like at Jerez where it was very cold in the morning and 15 degrees warmer in the afternoon. It's not so easy to cover that temperature range within the new tire rules, it's a real challenge."


Lap record: Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC211V-Michelin), 1:28.714, 163.253km/h-101.441mph (2006)
Pole position 2006: Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC211V-Michelin), 1:27.676, 165.185km/h-102.641mph

Recent winners of the British GP:
2006 Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC211V-Michelin), 44:54.878
2005 Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin), 52:58.675 (wet race)
2004 Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin), 45:30.473
2003 Max Biaggi (Honda Camel Pons RC211V-Michelin), 46, 06.688
2002 Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda RC211V-Michelin), 46:32.888
2001 Valentino Rossi (Nastro Azzurro Honda NSR500-Michelin), 46:53.349
2000 Valentino Rossi (Nastro Azzurro Honda NSR500-Michelin), 52:37.246 (wet race)
1999 Alex Crivillé (Repsol Honda NSR500-Michelin), 47:06.290
1998 Simon Crafar (Red Bull WCM Yamaha YZR500), 46:45.662
1997 Mick Doohan (Repsol Honda-Michelin NSR500), 46:55.378
1996 Mick Doohan (Repsol Honda-Michelin NSR500), 47:11.135

Michelin's 2007 Donington MotoGP riders:
Carlos Checa (Honda LCR RC212V-Michelin)
Colin Edwards (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin)
Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC212V-Michelin)
Shinya Nakano (Konica Minolta Honda RC212V-Michelin)
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC212V-Michelin)
Jonathan Rea (Team Roberts KR212V-Michelin)
Kenny Roberts Junior (Team Roberts KR212V-Michelin)
Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin)

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