Bridgestone to quit as MotoGP tyre supplier

'Bridgestone Corporation today announced that it will withdraw from the role of Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP at the end of 2015 season'
Bridgestone to quit as MotoGP tyre supplier

Bridgestone has announced it will cease to be MotoGP's official tyre supplier at the end of 2015.

A statement from the Japanese company, which became MotoGP's first control tyre supplier in 2009 after dominating the final two seasons of open tyre competition against former class favourite Michelin, is as follows:

"Bridgestone Corporation (Bridgestone) today announced that it will withdraw from the role of Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP at the end of 2015 season.

"Bridgestone has supported the world's best riders with continuous technological innovation aimed at developing safer and better performing tires since it first entered the MotoGP championship in 2002.

"During this time, the development and supply of MotoGP tyres have been a major boost to Bridgestone's technical ability, and brought a number of benefits that have enhanced Bridgestone's brand globally.

"Having achieved the objectives it set out for itself in MotoGP, Bridgestone will cease tyre supply to the series at the end of 2015.

"Bridgestone expresses its deepest gratitude to the riders,
teams and all parties concerned, as well as motorsport fans around the world, for their support over the years.

"Bridgestone will spare no effort in fulfilling its role of Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP until the end of the 2015 season, and will ensure the same superior levels of product and support during the rest of its tenure.

"As a company engaged in enhancing the mobility of society, Bridgestone will continuously take part in motorsports with its full passion and do its best to promote motorsport as part of its new portfolio of activities.

"Kyota Futami - General Manager, Global Motorsport Department, Bridgestone Corporation: "It is with some sadness that we will make our exit from MotoGP after such a prosperous participation in the sport. Yet, having achieved everything we set out to do when we entered the championship over ten years ago, including sharing in many MotoGP World Championships, our company believes it is the right time to implement an exit strategy from the series. Over the next two seasons we will continue our world-class level of support to all the teams and riders, and will keep investing heavily in our MotoGP tyre development programme. We will continue to push the boundaries of motorcycle tyre development over the next two years to ensure that we leave the championship at the end of 2015 in the best way possible.""

Bridgestone took its first MotoGP wins with Makoto Tamada (Camel Honda) at Rio then Japan in 2004. Further wins followed with Ducati riders Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss during 2005 and 2006, before Ducati's new signing Casey Stoner handed Bridgestone its first MotoGP crown in 2007. Valentino Rossi and Yamaha repeated the feat in 2008, by which time all of the leading riders were seeking Bridgestone rubber.

Being an exclusive tyre supplier is often a thankless role and Bridgestone has faced criticism from riders over issues such as tyre warm-up characteristics, the direction of its tyre development and a lack of genuine rubber choices.

The single tyre era began with riders choosing between two different front and rear slick compounds at each event, but riders often instantly ruled out the harder rear. Bridgestone expanded its supply with a different (softer) rear for the CRT/Open class from 2013.

Bridgestone's lowest point came at Phillip Island last year when, caught out by larger than expected tyre stresses on the new asphalt, a compulsory mid-race bike swap was needed in order to complete the race distance (Dunlop faced similar issues in Moto2).

Otherwise Bridgestone's tyres have generally been reliable and consistent, without widely varying performance from tyres of the same compound.

Shu Ishibashi, Bridgestone's Chief Marketing Officer, insisted the company was not walking away from major motorsport, having at one time supplied both F1 and MotoGP.

"While Bridgestone will withdraw from the MotoGP championship after 2015, we are considering other opportunities to maintain our position of as a key player for motorsports fans all around the world," said Ishibashi.

Dunlop, the exclusive tyre supplier for the Moto2 and Moto3 classes, plus Michelin - which won 26 500cc/MotoGP titles from 1976-2006 - and current F1/WSBK/BSB tyre supplier Pirelli are among the likely candidates to take over the MotoGP tyre role.

"After seven years of collaboration it has been announced today in agreement with Dorna that Bridgestone will withdraw from the role of Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP at the end of 2015 season," said a statement from the MotoGP commercial rights holder.

"Dorna, in agreement with the FIM, has decided to call a tender for tyre manufacturers interested in becoming Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP from the 2016 season.

"The Tender application starts today, the 1st May 2014, and will conclude on the 22nd May 2014. All interested tyre manufacturers can request the technical specifications from Dorna's Managing Director Javier Alonso.

"Dorna Sports SL wishes to thank Bridgestone for the years of great collaboration and success in the championship."

Bridgestone's current contract expires at the end of 2014, but that would not have left time for a replacement. The announcement of a new tender process confirms that MotoGP does not intend to return to open tyre competition.

2016 will also see the introduction of a single ECU in MotoGP.

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