The decision by Bridgestone to withdraw as the official tire supplier is “bad news” for the sport according to seven-time world champion Valentino Rossi.
MotoGP promoters Dorna have called a tender for tire supply for 2016 onwards and it is expected that Michelin, Pirelli and Dunlop will express interest in the deal.
Dunlop currently supply the Moto3 and Moto2 classes while Pirelli are suppliers to the World SBK championship. Rossi won five of his MotoGP championships on Michelin, the French company who once dominated grand prix racing before the switch to a single tire supplier.
Bridgestone will withdraw at the end of the 2015 season.
“It is a big surprise and personally speaking I’m very sad, it is bad news,” Rossi said.
“Everybody tries to fight to have the best tires but I think the quality of Bridgestone is very, very high and I don’t know if another supplier can arrive at the same level.
“If the tire changes then our sport will change very much in 2016 because it looks like with less electronics on the bike (from 2016) and a change of tires it means that the bike has to change a lot and it means the riding style will also change.
“I was very positive about one tire supplier at the beginning, but the experience of these years is that the one supplier has some good things but also some bad things. So also open would be interesting.”
Clearly Rossi believes that MotoGP should consider a return to tire competition with more than one brand being supplied.
In 2006, Michelin took the tire war to extreme heights by building special tires overnight at their French factory and making an express delivery for race day at European races.
“I think it will be difficult for another manufacturer to arrive at the same level as Bridgestone. It is difficult to have the same tire working well with different bikes,” he said.
“Usually one tire has some advantage for one bike and maybe this creates a disadvantage for another bike. So from this point of view we can make it better but I think the lap time that we see now and the rhythm that we see now in the races with some other tires will be more hard.”
The definitive performance by Bridgestone has been highlighted by their front tire, a situation first exposed by Casey Stoner and Ducati with their 2007 world championship win.
And quickly other top riders, like Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo, were converted when the single tire rule came in 2008.
“I think the Bridgestone tires, especially the front one, has enormous performance. From my switch from Michelin to Bridgestone I just felt from the beginning that the front tire was unbelievable,” said Lorenzo.
Lorenzo was however one of the many victims of the poor warm-up characteristics for many years of the single specification Bridgestone rear tire.
“We had some problems to warm up the tires in the first laps. Bridgestone worked really hard and I was really happy with the work they did to solve this problem because I, like a lot of riders, had many crashes and a lot of injuries,” Lorenzo said.
Lorenzo’s main plea for the new tire supplier is to listen to the riders and “give us the tires we want.”
Lorenzo has also been critical of the slightly stiffer construction of Bridgestone’s 2014 heat layered rear tire which has impacted the smooth handling of the Yamaha M1.