Michelin has announced that it will not submit a proposal for the newly announced single-tyre contract in MotoGP.
The move means that French brand, which has won the 500cc/MotoGP crown 26 times since 1973, will definitely leave the premier-class at the end of this season.
Officially, the single tyre rule has been introduced 'for safety and cost reasons' - the safety aspect referring to cornering speeds rather than unsafe tyres.
Those wising to bid for the single tyre supply had to submit their proposals by yesterday (Friday, October 3). The final decision will be announced by October 18th at the latest.
"Michelin has decided not to submit a bid to the governing body of the MotoGP World Championship," said a statement. "At the same time, Michelin regrets not being able to contribute to the organisers' important discussions to improve rider safety and reduce costs.
"The spirit of competition has always been central to Michelin. Motor sports at the highest level are useful because competition among several tyre manufacturers is a valuable stimulus for developing increasingly high-performance tires that will one day equip customer vehicles. Tyres play a key role in a vehicle's performance and can make a considerable difference. This competition among manufacturers helps to make racing exciting.
"The radial tyre, which was invented by Michelin, has been improved through racing, and the improvements have since been passed on to consumers. Michelin's dual compound technology for motorcycle tyres was first tested in MotoGP racing and is today integrated into premium products for the brand's customers. The MotoGP Championship organisers have decided to use a single tyre supplier for the coming seasons, which effectively eliminates the competitive environment that has led to so much progress.
"The R&D resources allocated for MotoGP racing will be redeployed to support innovation, which is at the heart of Michelin's customer-focused strategy."
Michelin's decision means that the single-tyre MotoGP contract looks certain to go to Bridgestone, which was considered favourite to secure the deal anyway.
Bridgestone has won the MotoGP World Championship for the past two seasons, has won 12 of the 15 races so far this year and already supplies 12 of the 18 MotoGP riders.
Neither Bridgestone nor Michelin had wanted a single tyre rule, but Bridgestone - which said that it 'respects' the decision of the Grand Prix Commission - has submitted a proposal (see separate story).