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GP Week : Issue 30
>>Moto GPnews One tyre – Bridgestone on pole? THREATENED for over a year, the axe finally fell at Motegi on open tyre competition in MotoGP, with the GP Commission voting to adopt a single tyre rule from 2009. The decision was delayed overnight to allow 11th- hour negotiations between Michelin and prospective new teams, Ducati and Kawasaki, which would have provided a ‘voluntary’one-tyre outcome. But both rejected the option, and on Sunday morning the announcement came, with tenders now being called. It is not known how serious these projected moves might have been. Casey Stoner was said to favour a switch to Michelin, partly on the grounds that Bridgestone’s development had now switched its focus from him to Rossi. But Ducati team chief Livio Suppo denied the negotiations on Saturday night; while on Sunday it was rumoured that sponsors Marlboro had blocked the move, preferring that its F1 Ferrari team and Ducati should have as much alignment in co-sponsorship and technical support as possible. Kawasaki admitted there had been negotiations with Michelin. The team was thought to be keen on topping up its reduced 2009 budget with the Michelin money that would come with the deal. But negotiations ran out of time, said a spokesman, and the deal was blocked at the highest factory level. Dorna chief Carmelo Ezpeleta, who had not had to use his casting vote in the crucial GP Commission meeting, said the move had been made on grounds of safety and cost. Tyres will have to be free to teams; while removing the element of tyre competition would slow or stop the increase in corner speed which is seen as a threat to safety. Asked how-come reduced tyre grip meant more safety, he laughed and said: “Don’t play with that. It is the wish of the riders,”adding: “In the last three years there have been nine accidents when the rider reached the safety barrier. If speeds increase further, more tracks will have to be modified.” The GP Commission had tried to keep the element of tyre competition in MotoGP, “but finally we were not able.”He pointed out that all major forms of motor sport have a control- tyre rule. “We think it is the best for the championship. In principle, the rules will be the same as in Formula One. “In the past, competition between tyres has been very important, so this is a very important day. Of course, nothing is 100 percent good, but we think this is the better option,”he said. Tenders for tyre supply have now been invited, to be received by next Saturday. The final decision will be made no later than October 18, he said. Tyre companies non-commital REACTION to the single-tyre rule has been varied. Both tyre companies and the manufacturers’ association had been against the change, but teams’ association IRTA voted in favour at a meeting held before the crucial GP Commission meeting. To some, it was an outrage, reducing the status of the sport and removing an important element. To others it was an important step towards making it more fair. This group included also most riders. Most assume that the supplier will be Bridgestone, which has risen to dominance over the past two years, since joining the class in 2003 – but the Japanese company would not make any commitment even to putting in a tender. “We have to have a lot of meetings in Tokyo over the next few days before we Images used in GPWEEK are shot by the photo-artists at Sutton Images. Posters available of any shot – CLICK HERE for more information decide,” said motorcycle race chief Hiroshi Yamada. Michelin’s response was similar, and muted, coming in a terse official statement. “Michelin notes with interest the reasons given by the governors of this sport …”, it read. This was “a major change to the regulations of a series that was created in 1949. Michelin remains very committed after many years of involvement. “Michelin is examining the opportunities offered by these new regulations and will make an announcement in the next few days as to whether or not the company will tender to supply tyres to the premier class championship that Michelin has won on 26 occasions since 1973.” Dunlop race boss Jeremy Ferguson said it was “very unlikely” that it would tender for the contract. Interested in Aussie V8 Supercars? CLICK HERE to access Australasian Motorsport eNews ... 13