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GP Week : Issue 39
>>MOTOINSIGHT races in Europe. It was simply physically impossible for them to pursue the Michelin system, of making special tyres during the weekend specifically for the prevailing conditions. In the end, and thanks to some obviously very clever engineering, it meant they made better racing tyres than Michelin. This was what led to the change in rules. From the start, Bridgestone elected not to produce any intermediate tyres. This meant lots of down time in the pits at the very first tests directly after last year’s closing Valencia GP. But the part-wet first morning at Jerez demonstrated that the wet tyres, though not (said Lorenzo) up to Michelin’s standards, also perform pretty well in intermediate conditions, with sufficient endurance for long runs even when the track was mostly dry. There remains the question of rain tyres … will four be enough? If the first two free practice sessions are wet, and qualifying also, riders will have to ration themselves very carefully. But the question can be answered. In the first year, confirmed race director Paul Butler, there has to be a provisional element to the details of the rules. “There’s flexibility available if special circumstances require it,”he said. So far, the major changeover has been not only surprisingly smooth but even more surprisingly productive. It’s hard to find any complaints at all. Except in just one regard – the loss of the supersoft qualifying tyres that had made Saturday afternoon’s single qualifying hour such a festival of speed. These one-lap specials had so much grip that they bore little relation to race rubber. And with only one lap it was a real challenge for riders to try to explore their full capabilities. Hayden summed it up well at the time: “Sometimes you come in from a qualifying and you’re shaking ...” The same rider sounded a lament for the lost quallies at Jerez: “I think qualifying will be a lot more boring this year,”he said. 45