It has been officially confirmed that Dani Pedrosa will make a shock switch from Michelin to Bridgestone tyres with immediate effect - splitting the Repsol Honda Team in two for the five remaining rounds of the 2008 season.

Whilst there had been growing expectation of a tyre switch for 2009, particularly following Pedrosa's brutal criticism of Michelin after its Czech Republic Grand Prix disaster, few believed such a seismic change would be implemented during the racing season.

However, rumours of a split began circulating on Sunday morning at Misano and a statement confirming an instant 'divorce' was released shortly after the San Marino Grand Prix - a race Pedrosa finished in fourth position and which saw an equal Bridgestone/Michelin split of the top ten places.

'For 24 years Michelin and Honda have worked together at the highest level of motorcycle racing. Together the two companies have won 14 premier-class World Championships,' the statement began.

'The two companies fully understand the importance of the "feeling" between the rider and the equipment he has at his disposal, especially tyres.

'Despite making an excellent start to the season and leading the World Championship going into the German GP, during the last few races Dani Pedrosa has made it know to both Michelin and Honda that he doesn't feel at ease with the tyres that Michelin have offered him.

'Honda and Michelin believe that rider confidence needs to be at its maximum if the rider is to fully exploit the tactical potential of the tyres.

'In these circumstances Michelin and Honda have therefore decided not to equip Pedrosa with Michelin tyres for the remainder of the 2008 season."

"I thank Michelin and Honda for their mutual understanding and for agreeing to my personal demands," commented Pedrosa. "I am very conscious of the fact that I have made some excessively negative comments about Michelin tyres, even though Michelin helped me make an exceptional start to the season."

'Both Honda and Michelin hope that MotoGP World Championship will continue with a multi-tyre brand regulation in 2009, Michelin will equip one of the Repsol Honda's two riders for the remainder of the 2008 season,' concluded the statement.

Pedrosa's team-mate Nicky Hayden, expected to leave Honda for Ducati next season, will thus remain on Michelin tyres, while Pedrosa could make his Bridgestone debut during testing on Monday.

Pedrosa, who had pushed to join Valentino Rossi in switching to Bridgestone tyres at the end of last season, won two races earlier this season and was still leading the world championship until falling from the lead of the wet German Grand Prix on July 13.

The last six races have been won by either world championship leader Rossi or fellow Bridgestone rider Casey Stoner, the reigning world champion.

Pedrosa, the 2007 world championship runner-up, is currently third in the 2008 standings, 77 points behind Rossi but just two points from Stoner after the Ducati rider's double DNF in the last two rounds.

With hindsight, the decision to hand Shinya Nakano a Bridgestone-shod factory RC212V from Brno onwards - officially in order to develop next year's satellite Honda - now looks like a calculated move to see how easily Pedrosa's machine would adapt to such a sudden tyre change.

The signs at Brno were good: Whilst the Michelin riders struggled for the third race in succession, Nakano finished a season's best fourth with a best lap time 2.146secs quicker than Pedrosa, who limped home a furious 15th after 'the worst race of his career'. However, Nakano was less successful at Misano, qualifying eighth and finishing twelfth.

It is understood that a formal request by Honda to change tyres for Pedrosa was made shortly after Brno, although the amount of 'negotiation' needed remains unknown.

Michelin had previously indicated that it would withdraw from MotoGP if it lost the Repsol Honda Team, while Bridgestone had suggested it didn't have the capacity to supply any more riders. Bridgestone now supplies 12 of the 18 MotoGP riders.

Michelin and Bridgestone may believe that by bowing to Pedrosa's 'personal demands' - and having the top three riders on the same brand of tyre - they will avoid the threatened introduction of a control tyre for 2009, something neither company wants.

Pedrosa's defection means that Hayden and Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo will be Michelin's only factory MotoGP riders during the last five rounds of the season.

The newly divided Repsol Honda Team will presumably operate in the same way as Fiat Yamaha, which has run 'team-mates' Rossi and Lorenzo from separate pit garages since the start of the year, to protect tyre confidentiality.

Repsol Honda's 2009 tyre plans remain unknown, although the new Bridgestone/Michelin split might well continue into next season, when Andrea Dovizioso is tipped to replace Nicky Hayden. 'Dovi' currently rides a Michelin-shod JiR Honda.


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment

of non wining history. How many races Repsol Honda have won since 2006? 8. Very, very few. Pedrosa in 48 races since he entered Motogp, has 6 victories. Is Honda betting in the right horse? I just hope that Dovizioso will not be put aside when Puig realizes that is as fast as Dani and can overtake. Honda as made very poor decisions in the last few years...
And no one takes out of my head that tis Michelin - Bridgestone move is a Puig demand. I´m 100% sure it was, but Honda would surely not put on a press realese that was a Puig decision. If they put it, it was a humiliation. Don´t forget that in Brno, Puig wanted to no one with Michelin tires start the race.

I don´t have anything against Dani Pedrosa. I think when everything is Ok is a very fast ryder if no one is in front of him. But he surely cannot overtake like we have seen so many times. We are now in a era of the 800cc because of him. Honda were the ones that push to switch from the 990cc to 800cc. They thought that a smaller bike would give an advantage to Pedrosa, and he would win more easily, they just didn´t expect Casey Stoner would show up in such terrific form. But the thing that makes me confuse, it´s: how is it possible that Puig has so much power in Honda? The japanese submit to everything he says. As everyone noted that is since Puig is in HRC that they have the worst period