One-make MotoGP tyre rule to be confirmed in Japan

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MotoGP will adopt a one-make tyre rule in 2009, with Bridgestone the exclusive supplier.

The move to a mono brand, which will spell the end of Michelin’s long and successful MotoGP association, will be confirmed at a meeting of the Grand Prix Commission in Japan later this month.

Although it is believed that Michelin will bid for the contract, the overwhelming support for Bridgestone will tip the balance in the Japanese company’s favour. MCN understands that the tyres will be supplied to teams free of charge, but they will have to pay for tyres to test with, though final details will be thrashed out at the Twin Ring Motegi this weekend.

MCN also understands that despite reluctance to cease competition in MotoGP, Bridgestone has relented and finally told Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta that it will supply the grid in 2009.

Ezpeleta is understood to have got the assurance after meetings with Bridgestone senior management at the recent inaugural Valencia Formula One race.

Ezpeleta confirmed to MCN that his personal view was that a one-make tyre rule would help stop increasing concerns about the growth in corner speeds on the new generation 800cc machines.

“It seems that is the best option but we have to wait, “said Ezpeleta, who again refuted suggestions that he was using the safety angle to implement a one-make tyre rule purely to help the show, with MotoGP being branded boring too often.

“The promoters came to and told me of their concern about increase in the corner speeds. I don’t need an excuse to do anything or use safety as a reason. We kept competition for this season and in the my opinion the result has not been very good, “added the Spaniard.

One thing that definitely won’t be happening is a shock switch back to the old 990cc four-strokes, which were deemed too fast at the end of 2006 and scrapped.

Most riders prefer a switch back to 990s to help reduce corner speeds but Ezpeleta said: “This is completely impossible. Even the riders realise this is not possible.”

With Bridgestone hot favourites to be the one-make supplier, Rossi and Stoner will both be relieved, as they were reluctant to have to switch back to Michelin.

Rossi controversially engineered a switch from Michelin to Bridgestone last season because he was so angered with Michelin’s performance. And Aussie Stoner has never waned from criticising Michelin for his treatment during his rookie MotoGP campaign in 2006.

Rossi said: “If they decided to modify the rules, the question mark is which type of tyre? For sure Bridgestone and Michelin have more experience and it is a big risk to change with another tyre manufacturer who has no experience with MotoGP bikes, like for example Pirelli in World Superbikes. I hope its not Michelin because I don’t know which tyre they would give to me, “said Rossi, who said it was too risky to give Dunlop the contract after an expected bidding process.

“Dunlop for me is a big risk because it would be starting from zero and in two months they need a lot of development to build tyres for this type of bike. For me they have to decide between Bridgestone and Michelin.”

Stoner though did admit if Michelin won the contract to provide tyres, he would have no choice but to accept the decision.

“I’ve been happy with Bridgestone since the beginning. They have been very good to me.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt