Valentino Rossi seems certain to race on Bridgestone tyres next season even though a controversial one-make tyre rule won’t be implemented for 2008.
MCN understands the Italian will be the lone Yamaha rider on Bridgestone rubber next season, with new team-mate Jorge Lorenzo and Tech 3 duo Colin Edwards and James Toseland running Michelin tyres on their YZR-M1 800cc machines.
The shock revelation about Rossi and Bridgestone follows news that a one-make tyre rule seems certain to be rejected at a meeting of the Grand Prix Commission in Malaysia a week today (October 20).
That won’t stop Rossi though from getting his wish of dumping Michelin, with the 28-year-old expected to run on Bridgestone tyres in a split garage, with new team-mate Lorenzo to run on Michelin.
With Honda and Yamaha both being refused Bridgestone tyre deals in 2008 following requests made earlier this season, it looked likely that both factory teams would remain loyal to Michelin to avoid a one-make tyre rule being implemented.
But Rossi seems likely to strike a deal to exclusively run Bridgestone, while Dani Pedrosa will field Michelin tyres on his factory Honda RC212V contender.
Not even the promise of a huge increase in investment and resources has convinced Rossi to remain with Michelin, such is his desire to race on the same rubber as new world champion Casey Stoner.
In the front row press conference this afternoon in Australia, Rossi said it was still not decided what tyre brand he would be on next season. But he said that the option to run Bridgestone was still work in progress, hinting that he will be with the Japanese factory.
That’s despite Honda and Yamaha’s commitment to stay with Michelin, having initially voiced grave reservations to Dorna chief Carmelo Ezpeleta about remaining with the French brand.
“The situation is not very clear for us because we wait for Michelin to give a big effort next year to improve the situation, they understand a lot of mistakes this and especially with the new rule this year it was a bad surprise for Michelin. I think the French guys, in the head, the situation is not so bad but we had a lot of problems so we have to decide because we do not know exactly if it is possible to have Bridgestone. The situation is in progress, we have to decide, "said Rossi.
The news appeared to be a massive shock to Lorenzo, who sat alongside Rossi in the press conference.
He avoided the issue when asked, saying he was only concerned about his Dunlop tyres for tomorrow’s 250 race, where he can clinch his second successive world title.
Yamaha boss Davide Brivio told MCN no request had been submitted to Bridgestone to supply tyres exclusively to the seven-times world champion and no other Yamaha rider.
Bridgestone boss Hiroshi Yamada towed the same line, but he said increasing its current capacity by one more rider was achievable, particularly given that the rider involved is Rossi.
“I am very happy to hear Valentino wants to use Bridgestone tyres, “Yamada told MCN.