13 October 2004
Could a one tyre rule work in MotoGP?
With the first year of a one make tyre rule completed in World Superbikes with considerable success, the question is now being asked if such a rule could benefit other championships.
In WSBK, the 2004 title went down to the wire, with what had become a four horse race between Ducati Fila team-mates James Toseland and Regis Laconi, Ten Kate Honda's Chris Vermeulen and Renegade Ducati's Noriyuki Haga.
The racing throughout the year was also a great deal closer with no more than ten different riders taking to the podium, as opposed to 2003 when team-mates Ruben Xaus and Neil Hodgson won 20 of the seasons 24 races.
In MotoGP, Michelin is the tyre of choice for winning races with only Kawasaki and Suzuki, along with Honda riding Makoto Tamada, on Bridgestones. Tamada is the only non-Michelin rider to win a race since the MotoGP class began in 2002, taking the chequered flag at both Rio and Motegi this year, but Dunlop have had little success.
Kenny Roberts' Proton KR team, along with Harris WCM, both use Dunlop rubber. Even though their bikes are not considered the most competitive in the MotoGP paddock, a single tyre rule could benefit them, as it has done for teams such as Foggy Petronas Racing in WSBK.
"We had a Michelin contract last year," said former FPR rider, Troy Corser. "But the tyres they gave us were two seconds a lap slower than what Hodgson and Xaus had. Control tyres have eliminated that kind of rubbish."
Kenny Roberts senior agrees that a single tyre rule could benefit his and other, smaller, teams.
"When Superbikes went to control tyres, everybody thought they were crazy - but I reserved judgment," admitted Roberts. "Still, I really thought they would have more problems than they have and it would be better for us and a lot of other teams if there was a one-tyre rule in MotoGP, too. I would instigate that instantly for next year."
However, Michelin has already stated its opposition to any single tyre rule - arguing that the premier GP class should be about pushing the limits in all areas of performance (a view many agree with) and stating that it supplies identical tyres to all its GP teams.
Fortunately, Bridgestone's growing competitiveness could avoid the need for a one tyre rule - the Japanese manufacturer is getting ever closer to consistently producing tyres that are every bit a match for Michelin, meaning all but Proton KR and WCM could soon arrive at every GP confident that they have race-winning tyres...
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