Monday's season-opening Qatar night race was the first event of the single-tyre MotoGP era, with all 18 riders offered the same limited range of tyres for the first time.
As well as reducing costs, it was hoped that the move would make the racing closer, after two seasons dominated by drawn-out runaway wins since the switch to 800cc engines.
However despite having the same tyres available to all, and satellite teams getting machinery closer to factory spec (all the Honda and Yamaha teams now have pneumatic-valve engines for example) this year's Qatar Grand Prix saw the leaders break away even further than before, with a knock on effect throughout the field.
Casey Stoner had to fight his way back from a bad start to win in 2008, but led the 2009 race from start to finish. Both seasons saw 17 riders reach the finish.
5.323sec (2008) - 7.771sec (2009)
10.600sec (2008) - 16.244sec (2009)
14.040sec (2008) - 29.883sec (2009)
38.354sec (2008) - 42.284sec (2009)
58.930sec (2008) - 1min 0.286sec (2009)
1st to 17th (last):
1 lap* (2008) - 1min 15.028 (2009)
* Chris Vermeulen had to make a pit stop.
However, the gap did close significantly for those fighting in the 'mid-pack' - behind Stoner, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.
4th to 10th:
25.066sec (2008) - 17.874sec (2009)
4th to 15th:
45.642sec (2008) - 35.876sec (2009)
No real conclusions can be drawn from one race (especially a night race, being run one day late after a desert rainstorm) - except that the likes of Stoner, Rossi and Lorenzo will be fast whatever tyres they are on.
Meanwhile, Bridgestone expressed satisfaction with its single-tyre debut, although made no reference to the lack of close racing at the front.
“I am happy with the new regulations and I think they worked well in Qatar,” said Tohru Ubukata, manager of Bridgestone's Motorcycle Race Tyre Development. “I believe we made the correct selection of two compounds for this first race, and I believe that these options also were ok for the teams. With just 20 tyres per rider, every team had sufficient to complete the race weekend, even though it was extended by one day, so I think new regulation is working ok.”
“I am pleased that we have been able to meet the task of providing a consistent control tyre and I am pleased we have completed this weekend with no problems,” stated said Hiroshi Yamada, manager of Bridgestone's Motorcycle Sport Unit.