Factory Honda rider Dani Pedrosa believes the crucial advantage for the likes of Aleix Espargaro in the new Open category in MotoGP is access to the range of softer compound Bridgestone tyres.
Espargaro can use an extra soft tyre in his weekend allocation and many believe at selected tracks that he can make the Bridgestone rear last for race distance, the Spaniard will be a podium contender.
It is certainly anticipated that the Forward Racing rider will be a regular challenger for a front row start in qualifying given the benefit of the extra soft rubber to throw in a fast lap time.
And Repsol Honda rider Pedrosa admits that the extra soft tyre will be a big advantage for qualifying and for use in colder conditions.
Pedrosa is unable to use the extra soft tyre, as it is currently only for exclusive use by Open entrants and he told MCN: “With the soft tyre the Open bikes will have something extra, although for one lap in qualifying fuel is not an issue for us because you can use full power. The soft tyre can have a big affect on the tracks when it is cold. But for sure qualifying will be different, although the race outcome may not change much. It is always better to be on the front row rather than the second row and try and get through these guys on the first laps."
Gresini Honda rider Alvaro Bautista also believes it won’t be a surprise to see Espargaro on the front row in a number of races this year, with the additional grip provided by the extra soft option proving vital.
Bautista told MCN: “I think some bikes will have an advantage in qualifying with the soft tyre. The Open bikes are very similar to our Factory spec but they can use the softer tyre and I think this gives them a much better chance to make a good lap time. The difference between the bigger tank and the electronics is not so big. But I think the big difference will be with the softer tyre they can use. I don’t mind so much they have more fuel but give me the softer tyre. The tyre in MotoGP is very important and for sure in qualifying they will have an advantage.”