Michelin appoints motorcycle racing director

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Groupe Michelin has named Jean-Philippe Weber the new director of its motorcycle racing activities. He will replace Nicolas Goubert at the end of the 2006 MotoGP season.

"I have been working with (Goubert) and his team for several years, so I already know that it is very exciting to work with Michelin's MotoGP crew and with the company's partners," says Weber. "The results have been very impressive for many years, so it is a big challenge to maintain that success and to continue developing technology through competition."

Goubert, who has been with Michelin since 1988 and has run its motorcycle racing activities since 1997, will continue to grow his career with the company in a position to be announced shortly.

A racer himself, Weber began working on the development of Michelin motorcycle race tires in 2001. He has a background in chemical engineering. His new job takes him from behind the scenes to a new position in the public eye.

The appointment comes at a crucial moment for the company's namesake brand, with MotoGP switching to 800cc machines for the 2007 World Championship, and Michelin withdrawing from Formula One at the end of this season.

"MotoGP will become an even bigger part of our strategy now that the Michelin Groupe is leaving F1 to focus on MotoGP, Endurance car racing and in WRC (World Rally Championship) with the BFGoodrich brand," says Frédéric Henry-Biabaud, Michelin's motorsport director.

There are three key factors in Michelin's involvement in MotoGP, according to Biabaud.

"First, its profile is very big and getting bigger, so the return on our investment is excellent. Also, its visibility goes far beyond the world of motorcycling, which means it benefits Michelin as a whole. And it is a very challenging, very competitive discipline with some real heroes.

"Second, its link to our business is absolutely crucial. At a MotoGP race, all the fans know what tires they've got on their bikes, so in MotoGP you are always talking to your end customer. Also, MotoGP gives us a very strong link to our technical partners who use our tires as OE... on their customer machines.

"Third, the technical relationships between MotoGP and streetbikes is very close, much closer than in most other motorsports, so there is a direct link between our MotoGP tires and our street tires."

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