MotoGP: Tyre controversy makes mountain out of a molehill

Published: 14 April 2017

The Argentinian Grand Prix weekend saw controversy erupt in the paddock after a move by Michelin to bring a new type of front profile tyre was turned from a molehill into a mountain over allegations of favouritism and political in-fighting among riders and teams.

A number of riders requested that the French firm help them find more stability mid-corner, resulting in plans being put in place to allow them to try it out during the weekend – plans that were immediately claimed to be solely to aid Valentino Rossi.

The plot then took another twist at Friday’s safety commission when the attendees voted to remove the new tyre from the allocation after general strikes in Argentine capital Buenos Aires saw their delay to the circuit delayed until Saturday.

However, speaking on Saturday night to MCN, Michelin boss Nicholas Goubert dismissed the conspiracy theory as mere speculation.

“We decided on a direction for the tyres this season after testing, but at the Qatar test we had quite a few crashes – too many crashes. We didn’t change our mind, because Qatar is unique, but then came the race – and after it more people said that the feeling from the front wasn’t what they expected it to be.

“We took the decision to bring the additional tyres with the same compound and a stronger construction to see if it was specific to Qatar. Our objective wasn’t to make it available for the race, but to prepare for the future, but then with the strike unfortunately we didn’t have the tyres available on Friday and people looking at the weather forecast and the time they had left took the decision not to take the tyre.”

And there were no problems with the race tyres, according to dominant winner Maverick Viñales, who was quick to hand a fair share of the success to Michelin after Sunday’s race.

“We did a great job this weekend and worked very well with all the tyres. Especially with Pascal, he is the guy that takes care of us from Michelin. We all worked hard and we knew the decision of the tyre from this morning and I feel really great after this race. The tyre kept a good grip level all the time and I feel very strong on the tyres, because Michelin is doing a good job and I am really happy and confident right now.”