Australian MotoGP: Nicky Hayden’s support for one-make tyre rule grows

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Former MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden says his support for a controversial one-make tyre in next year’s world championship is increasing ahead of the final decision next weekend in Malaysia. 

The American, who was dethroned as MotoGP world champion last month in Japan by Ducati star Casey Stoner, believes a switch to a one-make tyre rule for 2008 would create better racing for fans, while crucially taking away the unknown element of choosing tyres on a Thursday.

Rules introduced for 2007 saw riders limited to selecting 31 tyres for a race weekend, with a final decision being taken on the Thursday before Friday practice starts.

Dorna chief Carmelo Ezpeleta proposed a one-make tyre rule at last month’s Japanese MotoGP after Nicky Hayden and team-mate Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha’s factory team were told they couldn’t clinch a tyre deal with Bridgestone for next season.

Initially sceptical about MotoGP copying World Superbikes and Formula One, Repsol Honda rider Nicky Hayden’s support for a one-make tyre rule is escalating.

“I’m not completely against the one-tyre rule. When I first heard about it in World Superbikes I thought it was a bad idea but now riders won’t have any more excuses.

“We can’t then say ‘well I chose the wrong tyres on Thursday.’ The manufacturers too, it will be real clear who has got the best bike. I think for the fans it can only make better racing.

“I think the best riders will still be at the front. And the best rider and the best bike will clearly win. I think this year the best bike, rider and tyre combination won the title and next year the best rider and the best bike will still win,” Hayden told MCN.

The 2006 premier class world champion says a one-make tyre rule would also take away the huge gulf in performance seen in some races this season, and it would drastically lessen the influence that tyres had in deciding the outcomes of races.

With Bridgestone dominant at certain races and Michelin better at other tracks, Nicky Hayden added: “Part of me is certainly against it because I like the competition and I know we are seeing Michelin try to fight back.

“But then I hate the fact that going into a race weekend and thinking that no matter how good I ride or how good the team does with the bike if the tyres don’t work we might as well stay home.

“That takes some of the fun out of it, especially at my home race in Laguna. That was just a disaster. Sometimes this year it’s been a tyre lottery.

“One thing too why I like the new tyre rule would be wouldn’t be sitting around talking tyres like this so much.”

What would he need if Michelin could convince Honda and Yamaha to sign new deals to avoid a one-make tyre rule being implemented?

“We’d need to work in a few areas. In the past some of it has been taking too much time to get heat in the tyres. Casey (Stoner) was fast on Michelin on his out lap too but he crashed a little bit as well on his out lap.

“But he was always fast. The biggest thing when you are behind one of those guys is they can make mistakes, run wide or whatever, but they can still grab a handful and not lose any time.

“Sometimes it’s a bit frustrating because they don’t have to be on the perfect line. The Bridgestone front helps you brake more into the corner as well.”

A final decision on whether MotoGP adopts a one-make tyre rule will be made on October 20, 2007 in Sepang.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt