Spanish petroleum giant Repsol, title sponsor of the factory Honda MotoGP team, played a significant role in Dani Pedrosa's shock mid-season switch from Michelin to Bridgestone tyres.
Shortly after Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix, which Pedrosa finished in fourth position, it was officially announced that the Spaniard's side of the garage would make an immediate switch to Bridgestone rubber due to a lack of confidence in his tyres at the last three rounds.
Upon announcement of the split, Pedrosa thanked Michelin and Honda "for agreeing to my personal demands" but Repsol has revealed it informed HRC that a change to Bridgestone tyres, expected for 2009, must happen immediately.
'Repsol told HRC that an immediate solution to the [tyre] problem was considered necessary, and not an extension of the situation until the 2009 season,' said a Repsol statement. 'From that moment on until the arrival of the San Marino GP this weekend, HRC and Repsol have been working jointly to change the tyre supplier for Dani Pedrosa, something that has been achieved and announced on Sunday.'
"One of our obligations as main sponsor of the Repsol Honda Team is to put pressure on the team, the factory and even the riders, when we think we have to do so, this is so that we get the results we expect after investing in this project," explained Arturo Sus, vice-director of Repsol Sports Sponsorship. "After the race in Brno, we all knew that Dani Pedrosa was not satisfied with the sensations he was getting from his bike.
"Mr. Hamane thought it was HRC's responsibility to back any decision taken by the rider. We all understand that for the 2009 season HRC would seriously think about changing to the option of having Bridgestone as supplier. From Repsol's point of view it was thought that this was not enough and so we then told Honda about the need for an immediate change in supplier, a move to Bridgestone for Dani Pedrosa," he confirmed.
"This is not a comfortable situation, neither for us nor for Honda, and obviously more so for Michelin, but we think that this is the right decision. Fortunately, this change has occurred this Sunday, and so from Monday onwards Dani Pedrosa will use Bridgestone tyres."
Pedrosa, Honda's only MotoGP race winner since 2007, will ride his factory RC212V with Bridgestone tyres for the first time during post-race testing at Misano today (Monday), before making his race debut on the Japanese rubber at Indianapolis on September 14.
Pedrosa, who has taken two race victories this season and was leading the world championship until the German Grand Prix on July 13, now holds third in the standings, 77 points behind Valentino Rossi but just two behind Casey Stoner. Rossi and Stoner both use Bridgestone tyres.
Pedrosa's American team-mate Nicky Hayden will remain on Michelin tyres for the final five rounds of the season.