Michelin, once the dominant force in MotoGP, appears to be fighting for its MotoGP future after struggling at the last three events - culminating in a top-eight sweep by Bridgestone in Sunday's Czech Republic Grand Prix.

As was made clear during 2007, such uneven racing could prompt the introduction of a single tyre brand, but Michelin could be forced out even without such a rule if it loses its partnership with Repsol Honda.

Honda is the only 'complete' factory team still using the French tyres - Fiat Yamaha splitting its allegiance between Michelin and Bridgestone - and should HRC switch, as looks increasingly likely after what a furious Dani Pedrosa labelled as a 'complete disaster' at the Czech Republic Grand Prix, then Michelin would probably pull out of the sport.

Despite a prior test session to prepare for the new track surface, Michelin's tyres were uncompetitive from the very start of the weekend; Bridgestone riders filling nine of the top ten positions in free practice and qualifying - which took place in both dry and wet conditions.

The top Michelin rider in the race was JiR Team Scot rookie Andrea Dovizioso, who took ninth position, a distant 39 seconds behind race winner Valentino Rossi after 22 laps.

"First of all, we must say thank you to our riders and also to the teams for the work they have done over the weekend trying to help us as much as they could," said Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. "Obviously we are very upset with the performance of our tyres and the results we achieved today. We knew it was going to be extremely difficult for our riders because we have struggled with front-tyre performance since Friday. We therefore knew that our riders would really struggle with the front tyre during the race.

"Now we need to understand the problems we faced here, where we also struggled last year. We have to make a big improvement to our performance at tracks like Brno. Now we will do our maximum to prepare in the best way possible for the next race at Misano, which is a different track and a different challenge," he added.

But while Michelin fights for its future, Bridgestone was left celebrating it's best ever MotoGP result - despite world champion Casey Stoner crashing out of the race lead.

"I am very pleased with the results that we have achieved across all six of our teams during this weekend in Brno and I'd like to extend my thanks to each of them for their efforts," said Bridgestone Motorsport's motorcycle manager Hiroshi Yamada . "We had our most successful qualifying performance of the season in the rain yesterday, which has been followed by our best ever race result in the dry this afternoon."

Nevertheless, several of its riders also suffered tyre problems.

"The new asphalt is particularly tough on the front tyre and, unfortunately, Chris [Vermeulen] and Sylvain [Guintoli] experienced front-end difficulties which did not allow them to challenge as high up the field as their practice pace suggested they could," confirmed motorcycle race tyre development manager Tohru Ubukata.

"John [Hopkins] also had a difficult race after a great start, losing rear grip which gradually dropped him down the order. Nevertheless, considering the difficult situation with the new track surface, I think today's result is a great achievement for us."

Bridgestone's previous best MotoGP result was a top six sweep at the 2007 Turkish Grand Prix.

Bridgestone has now won nine of the twelve races held so far this season.


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment