Intermediates could be dropped from Michelin's MotoGP tyre line-up next season.
While Bridgestone only offered a choice of wet or slick tyres during its tenure as exclusive supplier, Michelin has made the third type of tyre available for its return season.
However there is only a brief time window when track conditions are not better suited to either wets or slicks. That means intermediates are normally more appropriate should mixed conditions occur in practice and especially the short 15-minute qualifying sessions.
Intermediates were used by some riders after swapping bikes in the drying German MotoGP race, although the grand prix was won by Marc Marquez using slicks, who later stated:
“For our team the intermediate doesn't exist. We go from wet to dry. Otherwise it is a big confusion and how do I tell the team [during a race] 'I want intermediate or I want slick?'"
Discussions are underway between Michelin, the manufacturers and riders as to whether intermediates should continue to be part of the tyre allocation in 2017.
Valentino Rossi wouldn't be upset to see them go:
"[They] don't change a lot. We discover that the window of the intermediate is very narrow. And also from my point of view the Michelin on the mixed [track] conditions are less dangerous than the Bridgestone; they are a little bit more safe. So I think we can do without the intermediate. But anyway, it's not a big difference."
But fellow Sepang podium finishers Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) and Jorge Lorenzo want intermediates to stay, although the Italian felt they could be excluded from the race choice, presumably to avoid confusion about which tyres have been fitted during a mid-race bike swap.
"I have a different opinion [to Rossi]. I think the intermediate is good for the safety, like in Phillip Island when the temperature is very low and the tyre is quite hard because the consumption is very high," said the Sepang winner. "I think when it's half [wet] and half [dry], it's safer. In my opinion we have to keep, and maybe to not use in the race. But it's not so important."
Lorenzo also felt intermediates have a role to play in practice and qualifying.
"I have more or less the same opinion as Andrea, because in Phillip Island, for example in qualifying, I used both; intermediates and slicks. And I feel much better with the intermediates, because the slicks in cold conditions and with some patches of water were very difficult to warm up and in qualifying I got temperature in the tyres," he said.
"So I think for these cases, for safety, the intermediates would be better. I don't know if the decision is taken, but I want the intermediates."
By Peter McLaren