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GP Week : Issue 24
One-tyre rule back on the MotoGP agenda Will Michelin’s woes in Brno lead to a single tyre manufacturer in MotoGP? MOTOGP came one step closer to a one- make tyre rule at Brno, when Michelin served up a third disastrous race in a row to the company’s eight remaining riders. Problems were obvious from the start of practice, as dismayed riders found front tyres treacherously lacking in grip. Randy de Puniet crashed twice within 10 minutes as a result; while others looked gloomy at the prospect of the weekend ahead of them. Angry comments were echoed from the HRC factory team pit to Tech 3 Yamaha, Lorenzo’s Fiat Yamaha, and the satellite Honda teams of Dovizioso and de Puniet. Things didn’t improve in wet qualifying, or in the race. Only the two class rookies, Dovizioso and Lorenzo, gave any appearance of even trying to race, finishing ninth and 10th, almost 40s behind the leader … an average of almost two seconds a lap. Toseland and Edwards (13th and 14th) were another 32 and 41 seconds away respectively: Pedrosa almost another 20s down. If his manager and Svengali Alberto Puig had had his way, he wouldn’t even have finished, and nor would any of the others. Throughout the weekend he was canvassing teams suggesting they pull out, and even on the grid he approached Tech 3 Yamaha and Lorenzo’s team, urging them to pull in after the start “on safety grounds”. He was unsuccessful. The Spaniard spoke for many: “This weekend has been a complete disaster. I couldn’t even race today – all I could do was ride. I didn’t feel safe – I felt impotent and ashamed. I had no grip from the front, and no grip from the rear, from the first lap to the last. I almost crashed twice. We really need a drastic improvement.” Colin Edwards offered similar comments: “The more I pushed I didn’t seem to go much faster. The good start to the season seems like a long way away now. I didn’t enjoy today at all. We need a big improvement from Michelin.” Can Michelin provide one? Director of motorcycle racing Jean-Philippe Weber, pictured below, responded: “Obviously we are very upset with the performance of our tyres and the results we achieved today. “We need to understand the problems we faced here, where we also struggled last year. We have to make a big improvement. “Now we will do our maximum to prepare for the next race in Misano.” Behind closed doors, however, and off the record, much stronger words and ideas were exchanged; while Repsol Honda team manager visited Dorna chief Carmelo Ezpeleta to demand some action. The only action possible is a single-supplier tyre rule. It was Ezpeleta who proposed this last year, blackmailing Bridgestone into supplying Rossi. Now, however, he is reported to be dragging his feet. He will come under increasing pressure, that could only be relieved by a miracle from Michelin. For more, read Michael Scott’s opinion, page 32