While far from the only factor, Michelin's 2016 MotoGP return coincided with an unprecedent tally of nine different race winners.

The assumption was that things would settle down this season, given a year's worth of experience with the French rubber and standard ECU.

But the opening eleven races have produced five different winners, ten different riders on the podium and four championship leaders. Eleven riders have also featured on the front row of the grid.

For riders and teams, such unpredictability can be frustrating - competitive one week, struggling the next - and with the control ECU well understood, tyres are often first in the firing line after a bad weekend.

As the most important component on a motorcycle, that's hardly surprising. Although Michelin Racing technical director Nicolas Goubert feels it's not so much 'the tyres' as 'the tyre choice' that is now the crucial factor.

At the recent Austrian MotoGP all three front slick options and all three rears were in use during the race, something Michelin are proud of.

"Tyres are always a factor in the result of a motorcycle race, when you have choices between different kinds of tyres," Goubert said. "The regulation is there to make sure there are choices. We were asked to make more choices available to everyone this year.

"So for me it's positive that people can pick different tyres, to be able to find what suits their bike and the conditions the best. It's positive for us that tyre choice is so important.

"Somebody like Zarco will go with the soft choices [in Austria] and he made many laps to be sure the consistency was where he wants it to be. But not many riders can use that kind of tyre, so it's an advantage for him because of his riding style.

"On the other hand, Marquez will probably go with the hard rear, because he needs that for his riding style.

"So it's good for us and good for the show.

"I think Dorna is very happy with the situation; to see many different riders able to fight up front. That's what everybody wants."

Goubert then pointed out the pattern of success involving teams that hold private tests at a venue in the run-up to a grand prix.

"Quite often what happened this year is that the team that went testing two weeks before the race - like Yamaha did in Le Mans, like Ducati did in Mugello and Barcelona, like Honda before Brno - they won!

"Of course that is a big advantage - and it's even more of an advantage when you get bad weather during the weekend, like in Brno. Rain means less dry time for the guys that have not been there for testing and a bigger advantage if you have been beforehand.

"There are more tyre choices [this year], so you need more time to make sure you get everything right."

That testing scenario will not be a factor at Silverstone, venue for this weekend's British MotoGP, where no team has ridden since last year's race.

However multiple teams scheduled a test at Misano - host of the following San Marino round - earlier this week, suggesting they are well aware of the link.

One specific criticism from the riders this year has been that the current Michelin tyres have a very narrow operating window.

"It's difficult to design tyres that can make the race distance and also offer different performances. You have to differentiate the tyre choices by something. One way is to look at which temperature range they would work. So we will continue that," he said.

Looking ahead, the recent Brno test saw Michelin offer some prototype rubber for 2018.

"We had good results on the rears. We had one new spec on the rear, something like six or seven riders tested it and all of them said it was an improvement. We also had a couple of new fronts and I would say the results were not as good. Not as convincing! So we will continue working on that."


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