Michelin may have brought an expanded line-up of four (stiffer) rear tyres to this weekend's inaugural Thailand MotoGP, but 'the only tyre we suggest for the race is the hard one'.

There were rumours that excessive wear in the centre of the tyres could even see the softest option withdrawn altogether, later denied by Michelin (see below), but even Dani Pedrosa - the lightest rider on the grid - doubts he can race the medium tyre.

"It seems like the medium in the centre is not lasting enough for the distance," said Pedrosa, who qualified seventh on the grid, 0.370s behind team-mate Marc Marquez.

"Because of this we have to go with the hard compound, but I don’t have as much grip on the lean angle with the hard. It looks like our rivals are not complaining as much so I have to find a way to improve the edge grip.

"Tomorrow we have to work a little bit on how to manage not only this grip, but also the warm-up, it's a little bit difficult for me to warm-up the hard tyre even in this heat."

Pramac's Jack Miller said he had a similar endurance issue to Pedrosa, with the centre of his medium rear.

"I used the medium this morning for 12 laps and it worked really well. So we thought we'd try both medium and hard in FP4, but as soon as I left the pitlane it just didn't feel right.

"Even in 5th and 6th gear it just didn’t have the same grip. I came into the box and we could actually see some lines in the centre of the tyre where we were breaking through to the bottom rubber.

"We don't know if that's from the heat cycle – bringing it in, putting it on the warmer and taking it out again – or if it's just from the tyre being soft.

"It'll be interesting tonight when we get the hard tyre we used in FP4 cut and see how we're looking, how the prediction looks for the race."

However some of those lower down the grid are ready to take a risk with a softer rear tyre. 

"With the hard tyre there is no option to do a good race, our bike has really low grip and with the hard tyre I just spin," said Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro. "With the softer tyre it's true that the consumption is very high, but I will try to manage and see. In Aragon it was also high and I did a good race, so we have to risk."

Miller feels tyre management will be crucial, even for those with the hard rubber: "I think the race is going to be who can conserve the tyre the most, who can do the lap times but without using the tyre is going to be one of the big things.

"And also even the front tyre…"

'The pressure light was on after three laps'

It's known that at least several manufacturers, including Honda and Ducati, supply tyre heat/pressure data to their riders via the dashboard, to try and keep their tyres in the ideal operating range.

In Miller's case, he was getting a warning about the medium front after only a few laps in traffic.

The trouble is, as with Pedrosa and the hard rear, he is struggling to make the hard front work as well on his GP17. As such, and with endurance not an issue for the front, Miller's focus is on trying to keep the medium cool.

"I can use the hard, I did FP4 on it, but I don’t feel I've got the same potential. I can't turn the bike, I can't stop the bike as much, I have more moments," said the Australian.

"So for me, I'm looking like a medium front, but in FP3 I put it on at the start, caught up to Alvaro and Danilo and - with the other bikes around - the temperature light was on already and the pressure light was on already, after three laps this morning when the track was at it's coolest.

"So tomorrow in the race is going to be a hard one for sure, I think we'll have to do our best to cool the tyres on the straights. Stay out of the slipstream, try not to get the heat off the other bikes. And don't overspin the rear, especially the first laps with all the Dunlop rubber on the track.

"I think we have a rough idea of what we need to do, whether or not we can do it… Because once I got alone this morning and kept pushing the [medium] front tyre pressure dropped, the light went off, and it was great after six laps or so.

"The biggest thing is just getting clean air on the tyre."

Michelin: 'The only tyre we suggest for the race is the hard one'

Michelin's Piero Taramasso said: "The situation is not easy because the track conditions are very different from the test. When we came here for the test, track temperature was 48-49. Today was 57-58. The grip level is also much lower, so we saw the rear tyre is spinning more in a straight line. 5-6% more compared to the test.

"So the centre of the rear tyre is wearing quite quickly. It's unusual to have the centre wearing more than the edges.

"Yesterday the tyre wear improved with more rubber, but for us the only rear tyre we will suggest for the race is the hard one. With the hard tyre you can do a proper race, attack from the beginning to the end. The tyre wear looks good. So this is our suggestion for all the riders. You can do the race with the soft and medium but you will have to manage because only a bit of rubber will be left.

"But it's just a performance problem, not safety. So we won't take any tyres out [of the race day allocation]. I think 3-4 riders might go for the soft or medium. But there is a big drop in performance, 1-2 seconds a lap. 

"We had to choose this weekend's tyres based on the test in February, so we were expecting lower temperatures and maybe rain at this time of year. But now, it's very high temperature and low grip.

"For the front tyre, there is no issue with all three specifications. Overheating in the slipstream seems less important here than Misano and Aragon."

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