Will Bridgestone Continue as Tire Supplier for MotoGP?

04/18/2014 @ 10:43 am, by David Emmett19 COMMENTS

Will Bridgestone Continue as Tire Supplier for MotoGP? bridgestone battlax tires motogp 635x423

Big changes look to be coming to MotoGP’s spec-tire system. Now in the sixth season of having a single official supplier, MotoGP is moving closer to seeing the number and variety of tires drastically expanded. With the contract with Bridgestone due to expire at the end of 2014, there is even a serious chance that a new manufacturer could take over from the Japanese tire firm.

A report in the latest issue of the Spanish magazine Motociclismo (available via the Zinio platform), the magazine is reporting that Dorna is looking to change the way that the single tire supply works. Dorna representative Javier Alonso told Motociclismo that negotiations had been opened with several suppliers, including Michelin, Pirelli and Dunlop, as well as current supplier Bridgestone.

Dorna had presented Bridgestone with a list of conditions drawn up by the Safety Commission, the liaison body in which the riders discuss safety issues with representatives of Dorna, hosted by safety officer Loris Capirossi.

Though Alonso does not explicitly name the conditions, he does give Motociclismo some context behind their thinking. The idea is to expand the range of tires available at each race, as it has been all too common in recent history for riders to turn up at a particular track only to find that just one of the two compounds available will work.

Though the Bridgestone tires have proven to be excellent in terms of both grip and durability, Alonso said, they had proven to be “difficult for riders to understand sometimes.” The spec tire has also been blamed for creating problems for Ducati. The current tire forces manufacturers to pursue a particular direction in chassis design, which has favored Yamaha and Honda.

The intention is not to force Bridgestone to design tires especially for each manufacturer, as Pirelli does in World Superbikes, but to at least provide a much greater spectrum in terms of carcass stiffness and compounds. Senior Ducati personnel believe that a large part of their understeer could be solved by simply having a very different tire available.

At the moment, Bridgestone looks reluctant to comply with all of the conditions being put to them by the Safety Commission. They would be forced to accept some of those conditions, Loris Capirossi told Motociclismo. The sticking point appears to be largely expanding the number of tires available, Bridgestone’s chief coordinator of motorsport Thomas Scholz told the German website Speedweek.com.

If another choice of compound were to be added, that would increase the number of tires Bridgestone would have transport to the track by some 300 per weekend. If two extra tire choices were added, that number would go to 600.

Bridgestone would need an extra race truck to transport the tires to European circuits, and transport costs for overseas rounds would be massively increased. Bridgestone already pays over 20 million euros a season to supply a maximum of 22 riders each season with free tires. The Japanese firm is not keen for costs to be raised further.

Although other manufacturers are definitely interested in taking over the single tire contract for MotoGP, change is unlikely to come for next season. Dunlop representative Clinton Howe told Motociclismo that they would need 18 months to prepare to take over the MotoGP contract, and both Pirelli and Michelin would also need a similar preparation period.

The contract with Bridgestone is likely to be extended for a single season to the end of 2015, before another tire manufacturer is likely to take over. That would mean that whoever takes on the MotoGP tire contract would start with a single set of rules, as the entire class is set to go to the spec hardware and software solution in 2016.

Paddock rumor currently makes Michelin the clear favorite to take over from Bridgestone, as Michelin has been testing 16.5 inch slick tires in Italy, at Vallelunga. Any switch away from Bridgestone will have a massive impact on the series, as the manufacturer who takes over will have no data on how modern MotoGP machines perform.

Both Dunlop and Michelin have been absent from the series since 2008, and only Michelin was producing truly competitive tires at the time. However, a major reduction in performance is one of the things Dorna is believed to want from tire manufacturers.

Though they are adamant that safety must not be compromised, having tires which predictably lose grip halfway through the race would create more interesting race, they believe, as riders would be forced to pursue tire conservation strategies. That has not been necessary with the Bridgestone tires, with riders setting their fastest laps often near the end of the race.

Any decision on tires will have to wait, however. Talks have only just started in earnest, and an agreement will take several months to reach.

Source: Motociclismo & Speedweek; Photo: Bridgestone

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

Comment:

  1. Bill says:

    Single suppliers are a terrible idea. It has shown as well in some other series that costs are actually reduced when there is competition. Suppliers lower prices to compete with each other and teams spend less. Bridgestone doesn’t supply these for free after all.

  2. smiler says:

    Single suppliers are a terrible idea – it is easy to rememeber the days of constant complaints about tyres being more important than the rider and the bike.

    Dorna’s timing must mean there is an up and coming Spanish manufacturer…….

  3. Bill says:

    I believe Casey Stoner dispelled those myths when he won on the Ducati after the change and then dominated on the Honda. Tire wars breed better racing.

  4. dc4go says:

    great news now get rid of rider assist t/c, wheelie control, fule savers all the stuff cause MotoGP is a snooze fest.

  5. innis says:

    all tech wars breed better racing. let the teams pic which company’s tires they want to race on. Ok make every bike identical. this weird 1/2 and 1/2 blend of single manufacturer , ecu requirements, and unique bike designs favor the teams that can build around the required rubber. let them build the bikes how they want within spec and race!

  6. Frank says:

    ‘Dorna’s timing must mean there is an up and coming Spanish manufacturer…….’

    BAHAHAHAHA

  7. Gonzo says:

    I used to be a Bridgestone fan…then I put some Q2′s on my S1000RR, and never looked back. When I get my 78 CB750K back on the road, I think I will replace the BT-45′s with a Dunlop product as well.
    As for racing, spec tires make no sense, especially when the Manufacturer cannot hold up their end of things, as Bridgestone failed to do at COTA. Teams are free to run whatever suspension they want, they should be able to run whatever tire they want, and works for them.

  8. Conrice says:

    The 6 years of spec tire has been about as fun as having kidney stones.

  9. Dan says:

    The excuse that michelin would not understand how a modern motogp bike would perform is a reasonable point, and i guess the manufacturers and teams currently involved in the series are signed to a contract that would stop them from testing any new product, and why would they want to given they couldn’t use the product. That said, there are at least 2 teams on the brink of entering the series that would stand to benefit from a tire change, suzuki and aprillia could offer their machines in the name of R&D giving the tyre manufacturer (who ever that may be) valuable data, the bike manufacturer would also have an ace up the sleeve come introduction of the new spec tire. Valuable info to have i would say when you’re the new kid on the block. Given that any new supplier is likely 18 months away… Suzuki will probably be all tied up in contracts like the rest of them before any annoncement is made.

  10. Jeff says:

    Bring back tyre wars. It was much better and after Phillip Island 2013, Bridgestone should have been penalised.

  11. Rantz998 says:

    Racing does not need a single monopoly! AMA, WSBK nor MotoGP. Michelin, Pirelli and Dunlop, as well as current supplier Bridgestone all need to be available for the teams to choose as they like.

  12. Jw says:

    Seeing another tire brand win a moto GP race would be almost as exciting as seeing a Honda get beat by a non spaniard on a Suzuki or Ducati.

    I’m in favor of Tire Wars.

    TW

  13. JoeD says:

    Bridgestone was the OEM tire on my new 81 GpZ 1100. Less than a week from new, Pirelli hoops were installed. The ‘stones were the worst tire I had ever had to ride on up to that point. Over the years I was able to try many bikes and tire combinations and Bridgestone always were a disappointment. I suppose it is in their DNA to build sub par tires. Want excellent road manners AND longevity? Avon. They will make you throw rocks at the Q series.

  14. Bruce says:

    For those that bad mouth Bridgestone and think Q2′s are the bomb, stop comparing them to Bridgestone OEM or their non top of the line tires. I ran the Bridgestone BT002′s and BT003′s DOT race tire with excellent race results on race tracks and they simply were exceptional in the canyons as well. Some people simply name a manufacture as a great tire manufacture such as Pirelli. I run the Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP V2′s on my HP4 and they are excellent, but not all Pirelli’s work that well. The Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP V2′s wear out in about 1,000 miles, so for some, that may not be a good tire. My track tire is the Dunlop KR 448 and 449, both tires offer performance well about the Dunlop Q3′s which remains a good tire, just not the best for me.

  15. Just Johnny says:

    Motogp is very boring and predictable . Irish Road Racing is more exciting .

  16. Lewis Dawson says:

    Unfortunately, carnage and death is entirely too predictable in Irish road racing.

  17. Ollie says:

    Single tire supplier is GOOD…creates a more EVEN ground for driver ability to determine race results!!! Just because Bridgestone isn’t doing a good job doesn’t mean the concept is bad.

    At the end of the day the drivers matter in who wins and who doesn’t…we already see a difference in the bikes, (i.e. Honda having a superior bike and dominating with it) we don’t need yet another factor creating differences in the field.

  18. Joe Sixpack says:

    Ollie,

    At the end of the day the drivers don’t matter in who wins and who doesn’t…we already see a difference in the tires, (i.e. Yamaha having an inferior tire with no edge grip and Honda dominating with it) we need another factor creating equality in the field.

    Fixed.

  19. Dan says:

    Why not have 2 or 3 tyre suppliers and teams get to choose what tyre they use at what round. No team signed up to a specific tyre, that would really push development forward.