After 11 races in the 2007 MotoGP season, Australian Casey Stoner is leading the world championship by a big margin. He’s 44 points ahead of Valentino Rossi, who’s languishing in second place. So has The Doctor finally met his match? Or is Stoner leading because Bridgestone have been supplying significantly better tyres to Ducati than Michelin (or, for that matter, Dunlop…) have been able to serve up to Yamaha and Honda? It’s an endless debate.
After finishing in fourth place at Laguna Seca, Rossi has made it clear that he isn’t happy with current MotoGP tyre regulations, which do not allow one-off tyres to be supplied to riders during a race weekend. Rossi says that having to pre-select the allowed maximum of 17 rear tyres for a race does not work for him and that he would want this regulation changed.
Surprisingly enough, Rossi’s own chief mechanic, Jerry Burgess does not agree with Rossi. Says Burgess, 'The tyre rule has not been the main reason for Valentino not winning races this season. I like the rule - it's equal for everyone and I think it should stay!'
Casey Stoner, of course, agrees with Burgess and says 'At the beginning of the season, Valentino and the others were all for the new tyre rules. But as soon as they don't win, the rule is crap. I've had my bad races this year, especially in Germany, and I'm not complaining about the tyre rule. They can moan and whinge about it as much as they want, but it shows that Michelin have had an advantage in the past. This season, they cannot bring a tyre in just for the race and it's a matter of relying on the company that supports you to do a good job.'
Hiroshi Yamada, manager at Bridgestone Motorsport says, ‘The so called tyre war is a welcome situation for us as we are able to showcase our technical abilities in a competitive environment against other tyre manufacturers. The new tyre restrictions were developed based on joint discussions with all three tyre manufacturers involved in MotoGP. After eleven races, we are still supportive of the regulations and I think they have promoted a more even playing field and a greater competition among the tyre manufacturers and teams.’
While the debate rages on, we look forward to the next MotoGP round at Brno, in the Czech Republic, which will take place on Sunday, the 19th of August. Will Yamaha, Michelin and Rossi have an answer for Ducati, Bridgestone and Stoner ready by then…?
Update (17.08.2007): Nicky Hayden agrees with Rossi, says tyre rule is hurting MotoGP.Also see:
Hi-res wallpaper from the 2007 MotoGP season
Motorcycle GP racing in the 1950s: Eight-cylinder, 500cc bikes!
New colour schemes for the 2008 Suzuki GSX-R1000...
In action: The legendary Laverda V6 racebike
Bazzaz Performance: Traction control for streetbikes
Turbocharged: The 2008 Canjamoto R1200S
Team Roberts to say goodbye to MotoGP at the end of 2007?
The Michelin Man gets all worked up... :-)