MotoGP: The genius of Michelin’s tyre war

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Since their return to the MotoGP championship at the start of this season, Michelin have come under a lot of flack. Starting with Loris Baz’s high-speed tyre explosion back at the Sepang tests (even though it was later discovered to have been caused by a puncture) and leading up to the tyre selection in Brno only recently, there has been a lot of fire fighting for the French firm.

But what they’ve managed to do this season so far is really quite remarkable. Somehow, as they work to develop new-specification rubber for increasingly powerful MotoGP machinery, they’ve managed to create a tyre battle in a one-make series.

How? By providing a wide selection of choices for the riders each weekend, and by ensuring that different tyres can be used successfully by different machinery and different riding styles.

Compare that to last year, when it was completely normal to see the majority of riders elect for the same front tyre option from Bridgestone. Or even to Sunday’s Moto2 race, where every single rider on the grid used the same combination of Dunlop tyres.

And what that has resulted in is the single most competitive season in the history of Grand Prix racing. What we’ve saw this year time and time again, from Cal Crutchlow’s stunning wet win to Pedrosa’s victory on Sunday, is that riders can once again take a risk on tyres – they can gamble, and realistically expect that it might just pay off for them with successes.

And even better, it’s come with no real negatives. Now that riders have adopted their riding style to the new tyres, they’re showing no increase in the number of crashes compared to last year, and yet we’re getting racing that’s closer than ever.

Chapeau to Michelin, and long may it continue!

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer