Michelin Propaganda

John P Burns
by John P Burns

The 2002 season has again seen Michelin tires dominate the competition at the highest levels of world championship road racing. For the ninth year in a row, Michelin won the World Superbike Championship, claiming victory in 25 of 26 races as well as the top two spots in the points standings, led by Castrol Honda's Colin Edwards. Meanwhile in the MotoGP World Championship, Repsol Honda's Valentino Rossi gave Michelin a remarkable 11th straight title in motorcycling's premier category, where Michelin riders have won all of the season's first 14 Grands Prix.

These successes came despite an environment of increased competition among tire manufacturers. World Superbike has long been the battleground for one of the most intense tire wars in motorcycle racing, and Michelin riders were consistently outnumbered by a ratio of about 8-1 on most WSB grids. In MotoGP, unlike the previous two seasons, Michelin was no longer the sole tire supplier, as two competing brands returned to the top Grand Prix class." We are happy to have some competition this year," said Michelin Grand Prix manager Emmanuel Fournier. "It makes the emotion of winning all the greater."

The World Superbike season was one of the most exciting and hard-fought in recent memory, though early on it looked to be a walkover for Michelin rider Troy Bayliss (Ducati-Infostrada). He tallied 14 wins in the year's first 17 contests, including a then-record six in a row - twice. But Edwards' win at Laguna Seca in July began a string of nine straight (and 11 total) for the Texan, allowing him to overhaul Bayliss for the championship. Only once during the 26-race season did victory elude either Edwards or Bayliss, and Michelin riders occupied the podium 57 times out of 78 opportunities. In addition, Michelin riders set new lap records at nine of the series' 13 venues, including California's Laguna Seca.

Michelin dominance was even more overwhelming in the first year of four-stroke MotoGP competition. Rossi's 10 wins in the first 12 races clinched the championship with four GPs left to run, while Michelin had a virtual monopoly on the podium. Through the Malaysian Grand Prix on October 13, Michelin riders stood on the box 41 out of 42 times, set new lap records at every GP circuit, and held the top 10 places in MotoGP points. Since 1973, when Jack Findlay gave Michelin its first premier-class GP win at the Isle of Man TT, Michelin has won 290 out of 371 500cc/MotoGP races.

Michelin proudly salutes all of its 2002 champions, team members and partners who helped these riders win the most coveted championships in the world of motorcycle racing.

Michelin Track Records in 2002
World Superbike (circuit, lap time, rider):
Valencia, 1:34.814, Bayliss
Phillip Island, 1:32.656, Bayliss
Kyalami, 1:41.321, Edwards
Silverstone, 1:47.729, Bayliss
Lausitz, 1:39.395, Bayliss
Misano, 1:33.525, Bayliss
Laguna Seca, 1:24.888, Edwards
Assen, 2:01.861, Xaus
Imola, 1:48.336, Edwards

Suzuka, 2:04.226, Rossi
Welkom, 1:34.660, Rossi
Jerez, 1:42.193, Rossi
Le Mans, 1:36.046, Rossi
Mugello, 1:51.258, Rossi
Catalunya, 1:44.523, Biaggi
Assen, 2:01.691, Rossi
Donington, 1:31.563, Rossi
Sachsenring, 1:25.758, Jacque
Brno, 1:59.646, Biaggi
Estoril, 1:39.793, Checa
Rio, 1:50.568, Biaggi
Motegi, 1:49.052, Kato
Sepang, 2:04.487, Barros
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John P Burns
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