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Single tyre - nothing to fear?

MotoGP's one tyre future appears to be causing concern among some riders in the paddock, who fear their needs will be overlooked by a reduced range of tyres designed around the preferences of the championship leaders.

Whilst the airing of such concerns is 'all part of the game' in terms of riders seeking to apply pressure on Bridgestone to back them as much as possible next season, is it really likely that the less competitive riders will actually be worse off next year?

Prior to the tyre restrictions imposed for the start of 2007, which forced all riders to pick their tyre allocation before the start of each race weekend, many riders were complaining about Michelin bringing overnight specials from its French base - designed using practice data - for its star riders to use in the European races.

The lower ranked Michelin riders and those using rival brands rightfully felt this practice was unfair - asking, both private and publically, what they could do if they had those tyres.

From 2007 no 'overnight specials' have been allowed in MotoGP, but the tyre manufacturers - being in competition with each other - would naturally continue to back their top riders more than the others, while inequality between the brands at certain circuits has left some riders knowing that their hopes of a decent result were over after first free practice.

But, from next year, all riders will have access to, for example, exactly the same tyres as six time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi will be using - although some appear to hinting that they don't want 'Rossi's tyres' now.

'Rossi likes unusual tyres and his riding style is completely different to mine so if the tyres are designed around him they will be of no use to me', they might say. The unsympathetic might reply that they are simply afraid to take on Rossi with equal tyres.

In fairness, Rossi has also raised concerns about the reduction in tyre options available from 2009.

The exact tyre options and number available to each rider is yet to be confirmed, although it is rumoured that the dry tyre allocation will be reduced from this year's total of 40 (18 front and 22 rear) per race weekend to 20, with a choice of just two different compounds at each race. Bridgestone believes this will be sufficient as it will create rubber with a much wider range of working temperatures than at present.

Whilst there are legitimate concerns about matching such a limited range of tyres to the five different machines present on the grid, a MotoGP prototype - like any other racing thoroughbred - should be designed around the needs of its tyres anyway. Maximising tyre grip during acceleration, braking and cornering is the key to speed.

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