MotoGP: Michelin confirm three-rider talks with Yamaha

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Michelin confirmed that Yamaha had discussed the option of clinching a tyre deal for only three riders in 2008 before hot rumours emerged in Australia last weekend of Valentino Rossi’s shock switch to Bridgestone rubber.

Jean-Philippe Weber told MCN that Yamaha management had broached the subject of tyre deals for Jorge Lorenzo, Colin Edwards and James Toseland only, with Valentino Rossi severing his long-standing and successful relationship with Michelin to move to Bridgestone.

Weber said: “It is something that we have spoken about. Of course they have spoken about tyres for only three riders but at that time they were considering their options.

"I don’t know how deeply they have gone in that direction but I think it depends mainly on the rider. If Valentino really wants to switch to another tyre brand then I think they have to consider it.”

Weber refused publicly express his bitter disappointment at Rossi’s insistence on quitting Michelin, but he said a move to Bridgestone only further highlighted the growing influence of riders in influencing major company decisions.

“We have seen this year the riders have a lot of influence on everything. If its one of the challenges to switch to another tyre brand for any reason they have it looks as it if is difficult to change their mind. Of course we have a long partnership with Valentino and Yamaha.

We know that we are going in the right direction in terms of development and we know we can improve. If it’s the rider choice to switch then we can’t do anything else. We will lose an exceptional rider next year if he really wants to switch.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt