The FIM has announced that MotoGP riders will have added choice for their front slick tire allocation from the end of next month. Although the total number of front slick tires permitted for a race weekend will remain unchanged at eight, three different distribution options will be made available. However, new rules on when the tires can be ordered may make the tire situation much more difficult for teams.
The new compound options are as follows:
3 of specification “A” + 5 of specification “B”, or:
4 of specification “A” + 4 of specification “B”, or:
5 of specification “A” + 3 of specification “B”.
While the increase in options is good for the teams, the FIM goes on to through a larger wrench into the mix:
“During the preceding Grand Prix (or the official test organised by Dorna/IRTA, in the case of the first Grand Prix), the tire supplier will inform the teams of the two front tyre specifications that will be available for the next Grand Prix. Teams must inform the tire supplier of the number of each front slick specification required no later than 2 hours after the finish of the MotoGP race of this preceding Grand Prix (or 2 hours after the end of the final session of the official test, in the case of the first Grand Prix). This allocation request will be final and no changes are permitted after this time.”
In other words, tire selection for the race at Assen must be made just two hours after the Catalunya Grand Prix has finished, with 13 days between the Barcelona and Assen races. Going further, there’s the summer break, which sees three weeks of inactivity between Donington Park and the Czech GP at Brno. But the most difficult choice of all will come in September: Two hours after the race in Misano, on September 6th, the teams must choose which tires they will be using 28 days later at Estoril in Portugal, in early October.
The reasons for the current way of working are also obvious: Now that Bridgestone is supplying race tires at basically less than cost, and funding the entire MotoGP out of their own budget, rather than earning 50,000 euros a race weekend from the teams not supplied for free, the Japanese tire company is cutting costs wherever it can, the tires being shipped to Europe by sea container, rather than flown in. This means that any change to the regulations requires a long lead time, to allow Bridgestone to get sufficient tires to Europe in time.