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A Photog's French Adventure: Scott Jones At Le Mans, Friday Edition


Marc Marquez, MotoGP's very own Maximilien Robespierre


He's back. The old Jorge Lorenzo is showing his mettle at Le Mans


Burning gaze marks Valentino Rossi's rekindled motivation


Arm pump surgery has not slowed Stefan Bradl


Australia's latest and greatest, Jack Miller


Up to speed: Pol Espargaro is a quick learner


Alpinestars, protecting even your ears


Nicky 'Hustle' Hayden


Dunlop? Michelin is more likely. Andrea Iannone will be fast whatever the rubber


It's been a long four races for Cal Crutchlow. And there's 14 more to come


41 plays peekaboo


Andrea Dovizioso is putting himself in the shop window


If he can stay on, Alvaro Bautista can be fast


They're back. Alex Marquez is leading Honda's Moto3 charge


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Marc Marquez, MotoGP's very own Maximilien Robespierre He's back. The old Jorge Lorenzo is showing his mettle at Le Mans Burning gaze marks Valentino Rossi's rekindled motivation

Silly Season's First Signing: Marc Marquez Signs Two-Year Deal With Repsol Honda

With the contracts of the four riders in Honda's and Yamaha's factory teams expiring at the end of 2014, real fireworks were expected when contract negotiations began for the 2015 season and beyond. But as the season progressed, those fireworks have turned into something of a damp squib, with it looking increasingly likely that the factory line ups will see little or no change for 2015.

The first contract has already been signed. Today, HRC announced that they have reached agreement with Marc Marquez for another two years, meaning that the 2013 world champion will stay with the Repsol Honda team for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Given Marc Marquez' perfect start to 2014 - four wins from four pole positions in the first four races - this comes as no surprise at all. Clearly, retaining the services of the reigning world champion and the man leading the championship was Honda's highest priority.

With Marquez signed, where does that leave the rest of the top four? At the moment, the signs are that the rider line up of the Repsol Honda and Movistar Yamaha teams will remain completely unchanged for 2015. Valentino Rossi's results have shown the improvement he had himself demanded, a combination of a better Yamaha M1 and renewed motivation from his gamble of swapping crew chiefs, replacing Jeremy Burgess with Silvano Galbusera. Rossi has already spoken of his desire to stay on for another two years, and getting a contract extension with the Movistar Yamaha teams looks to be a given. Rossi is fast enough to be competitive, and his selling power is a powerful marketing tool for Yamaha and their sponsors.

With Marquez under contract, Honda's need for a rider that can win championships is already filled. That means that Dani Pedrosa's seat looks safe in the Repsol Honda team, the Spaniard having proven that he can pick up the baton whenever Marquez falters, and is capable of pushing for a championship himself. Pedrosa is 8th on the list of all-time winners in the premier class, and has shown that he can win races and, more importantly, finish ahead of the Yamahas consistently. Team principal Livio Suppo has repeatedly expressed his support for Pedrosa, which makes his spot at Repsol Honda look secure. Marquez and Pedrosa are clearly a winning combination, so why change?

The biggest question mark at the moment is over Jorge Lorenzo. Lorenzo has, of course, expressed his desire to stay with Yamaha, but he is hotly sought after. Before the 2014 season began, HRC vice president Shuhei Nakamoto expressed a keen interest in Lorenzo, saying that he could be a strong addition to the Repsol Honda team. Since Lorenzo's disastrous start to the season, Nakamoto has gone quiet, the balance shifting in favor of sitting rider Pedrosa. 

That leaves Ducati. There are strong rumors from several sources that Ducati Corse chief Gigi Dall'Igna is keen to sign Lorenzo in the Ducati factory team, having worked with the Spaniard in the 250cc class with Aprilia. Dall'Igna is rumored to be willing to pay Lorenzo a very large fee to make the switch to Ducati. Whether Lorenzo will make the jump remains to be seen, however. The Yamaha is a proven entity, and despite the initial trouble the M1 is having with edge grip on the 2014 Bridgestone tires, and with less acceleration and fueling with the reduced 20 liter fuel allowance, Yamaha is still Lorenzo's best chance of becoming world champion. The choice for Lorenzo will boil down to ambition over financial rewards, unless Ducati can conjour up some significant improvements over the next few races. Lorenzo's decision is not likely to come until after the summer break.

Below is the press release from Honda, announcing Marquez' contract extension:


Honda Racing Corporation renew with Marc Marquez until end of 2016

Honda Racing Corporation is pleased to announce the renewal of the contract with 2013 World Champion, Marc Marquez, for a further two years.

The young Spaniard took the MotoGP World by storm winning the Championship in his rookie season last year. It was a priority for HRC to re-sign the young sensation who has won every race so far this season – all from pole position. Since joining the Factory outfit – the Repsol Honda Team – Marc has finished on the podium in all but two of his twenty-two MotoGP races. He’s taken ten victories, six second’s and four third’s. He’s also accumulated thirteen pole positions in the premier class.

He arrives at this weekend’s French GP leading the Rider’s Championship by 28 points after just four rounds.

Shuhei Nakamoto – HRC Executive Vice President:

“We are very satisfied to have reached an agreement to keep Marc in the team for a further two seasons. Of course as Honda we wanted to keep Marc in our family and he also wanted to stay with us so… it was natural to renew the contract even if it is very early in the season! He is enjoying a fantastic start to 2014 and even though he is still learning, his ability to absorb information and adapt to the machine is remarkable”

Marc Marquez:

“I am very happy to announce my renewal with HRC. I had always dreamt about being part of the Repsol Honda Team, and thanks to Honda the dream came true a year and a half ago. Everything happened very quickly last season, and I would have never imagined that I could achieve what we did. Becoming World Champion during my first season was another dream turned into reality. It is a great honour to be a part of the Honda family and I’m glad to remain with this special group of people for another two seasons”

Marc Marquez World Championship Statistics:

MotoGP:
Starts: 22
Podiums: 20 (10 x 1st, 6 x 2nd 4 x 3rd)
Poles: 13
Fastest Race Laps: 13
World Champion: 2013

Moto2:
Starts: 32
Podiums: 25 (16 x 1st, 6 x 2nd, 3 x 3rd)
Poles: 14
Fastest Race Laps: 7
World Champion: 2012

125cc:
Starts: 46
Podiums: 14 (10 x 1st, 4 x 3rd)
Poles: 14
Fastest Race Laps: 9
World Champion: 2010

With the contracts of the four riders in Honda's and Yamaha's factory teams expiring at the end of 2014, real fireworks were expected when contract negotiations began for the 2015 season and beyond. But as the season progressed, those fireworks have turned into something of a damp squib, with it looking increasingly likely that the factory line ups will see little or no change for 2015.The first contract has already been signed. Today, HRC announced that they have reached agreement with Marc Marquez for another two years, meaning that the 2013 world champion will stay with the Repsol Honda team for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Given Marc Marquez' perfect start to 2014 - four wins from four pole positions in the first four races - this comes as no surprise at all. Clearly, retaining the services of the reigning world champion and the man leading the championship was Honda's highest priority.

Dovizioso And Crutchlow Complete One-Day Test At Mugello

While the World Superbike riders were busy at Imola, Ducati's MotoGP team was making use of their freedom from testing restrictions to try out a few things ahead of the Italian round at Mugello. Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow were present for the factory Ducati team, as was official test rider Michele Pirro, while Andrea Iannone was circulating on the Pramac bike. The two factory men had a new chassis to test, according to GPOne.com, though the frame was not radically different to the item they have raced so far. The new chassis did have a greater range of adjustment, something which the factory felt was needed as their riders had been operating at the limits of the current frame's adjustment. 

The riders also worked on set up, ahead of the race in two-and-a-half weeks' time, as well as testing some electronic strategies. Cal Crutchlow also tested a new braking solution, using ducts to cool the calipers. The ducts were a response to braking problems which Crutchlow suffered at Jerez, where he lost all braking power in the early laps of the race, before being forced to pull into the pits. The ducts are clearly visible in the photo below. The times set by Dovizioso and Crutchlow were respectable, Dovizioso three tenths of his qualifying time at last year's race, which was good enough for the front row, while Crutchlow as three tenths slower than his teammate.

Also present was Aprilia, in the guise of the ART Open class machine. In the saddle was Max Biaggi, the former 250cc and World Superbike champion taking to the track after an absence of well over a year. Biaggi tested the ART with carbon brakes and Bridgestone tires, describing it as 'a different bike to the RSV4', the machine which he became World Superbike champion on before retiring. The Italian posted 41 laps, with a fastest time of a low 1'53, according to GPOne.com.

The press release from Ducati appears below, underneath official photos from the test.


Note the air scoops directing cool air to the brake calipers


Ducati Team complete one day of testing at Mugello in preparation for Italian GP

Today saw the Ducati Team conclude an intense day of testing at Mugello in preparation for the Italian Grand Prix, which will be held at the Tuscany circuit in three weeks’ time.

Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow took advantage of good track conditions and favourable weather to search for an ideal set-up for the race, but also to try out some new electronic strategies. Further tests and checks were also carried out on the braking system of Crutchlow’s bike, after the problems the British rider encountered at Jerez.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1’47.9 (67 laps)

“It’s always important to do a test at Mugello before the race, and in any case we had some new set-ups to try. It was interesting: nothing revolutionary, but in any case these were tests that will be useful for the future bike. I set some good times, but when your adversaries are not present, you mustn’t give them too much importance. In any case we are quicker than last year. Towards the end of the day I crashed at turn 4 when I lost the front. Luckily I was unharmed, but I feel sorry for the mechanics who will now have to work a bit more this evening, because tomorrow we’re all leaving for France.”

Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team #35) – 1’48.2 (55 laps)

“Today was a day we had some things to try. I tested something different to my team-mate and to Andrea Iannone, but we went back towards the base setting of the Ducati and it felt a bit more comfortable. It was a good working day with quite good weather so we are happy to leave here confirming the direction for Le Mans and looking forwards to the weekend.”

While the World Superbike riders were busy at Imola, Ducati's MotoGP team was making use of their freedom from testing restrictions to try out a few things ahead of the Italian round at Mugello. Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow were present for the factory Ducati team, as was official test rider Michele Pirro, while Andrea Iannone was circulating on the Pramac bike. The two factory men had a new chassis to test, according to GPOne.com, though the frame was not radically different to the item they have raced so far. The new chassis did have a greater range of adjustment, something which the factory felt was needed as their riders had been operating at the limits of the current frame's adjustment. The riders also worked on set up, ahead of the race in two-and-a-half weeks' time, as well as testing some electronic strategies. Cal Crutchlow also tested a new braking solution, using ducts to cool the calipers. The ducts were a response to braking problems which Crutchlow suffered at Jerez, where he lost all braking power in the early laps of the race, before being forced to pull into the pits. The ducts are clearly visible in the photo below. The times set by Dovizioso and Crutchlow were respectable, Dovizioso three tenths of his qualifying time at last year's race, which was good enough for the front row, while Crutchlow as three tenths slower than his teammate.

Loris Capirossi On New Tire Supplier: Intermediates To Return, Allocation To Increase Slightly In 2016

The tire allocation for MotoGP is set to be expanded when the new tire supplier takes over from 2016. The numbers of tires supplied to each rider will be increased by one or two tires per rider, and each rider will have the option of three different compounds front and rear. But perhaps the most welcome change will be the return of intermediate tires to MotoGP, for use in practice conditions which are too dry for rain tires, but too damp and dangerous for slick tires to be used.

The expansion in number and compounds was a contributory factor in Bridgestone deciding to pull out of MotoGP, the series safety officer Loris Capirossi told MotoMatters.com. 'We started talking with Bridgestone in the middle of last year to understand the situation, because as everybody knows, the contract finishes at the end of 2014,' Capirossi said. 'We told them the situation is like this, we have to try to modify that part, we have to try to increase a little bit the number [of tires], we have to try to make the intermediate tire, just some points. Like Carmelo [Ezpeleta] said, we were talking and talking, but in the end Bridgestone decided to stop.' Capirossi expressed Dorna's gratitude to Bridgestone for agreeing to extend the contract for a single year through 2015. 'We talked to Bridgestone again about continuing for one more year, because it is important for us to work on [the tire situation]. Bridgestone understood our situation, and decided to stop at the end of 2015,' the Italian said.

There are three main candidates to replace Bridgestone, Capirossi said. 'We are already talking officially with Dunlop and Michelin. We are talking unofficially with Pirelli also, but we haven't received an official request yet. That [process] is still going on until the 22nd of this month. Then the process will be closed on the 22nd, and Dorna and the MSMA will decide what is the best way to go.'

Capirossi ruled out any return to open tire competition, as well as any radical shake up of the tire supply regulations. 'We don't want to change the rules,' the Italian said. 'It will still be a mono tire rule. We don't want to make 100 types of tire.' The new tire supplier would have to put considerable effort into development, however. 'When you start working with a new supplier, it's difficult, because we have to work really hard in the beginning to try to find the best solution for everybody. We have asked [the candidates] for many things, for development we asked for a lot of tests. We are just waiting for their answers, for their plans, so we can start to work.'

That work will be an intensive exercise for whoever is awarded the initial contract, especially in the run up to 2016. 'We will have to prepare 100 different types of tire to start the development, to find the best solution, the best tire working for all of the bikes, like Bridgestone did in the last couple of years. This is the target we wanted to follow,' Capirossi told MotoMatters.com.

Though Dunlop, Michelin and Pirelli have all expressed an interest in becoming official tire supplier, Michelin is widely tipped as the favorite to win the contract. The French company has stepped up its test program recently, with riders testing Michelin's 16.5" slicks in Italy and France in recent weeks.

The tire allocation for MotoGP is set to be expanded when the new tire supplier takes over from 2016. The numbers of tires supplied to each rider will be increased by one or two tires per rider, and each rider will have the option of three different compounds front and rear. But perhaps the most welcome change will be the return of intermediate tires to MotoGP, for use in practice conditions which are too dry for rain tires, but too damp and dangerous for slick tires to be used.

Arm Pump Update: Pedrosa Has Surgery Tuesday, Bradl To Be Operated Wednesday

Jerez was a tough round for MotoGP riders. Stefan Bradl suffered severe arm pump during the race on Sunday, where he finished in 10th place. But it seems that Dani Pedrosa was also suffering from a similar problem, despite riding to 3rd just short Valentino Rossi.

Despite not mentioning the problem all weekend, Pedrosa underwent surgery on Tuesday to help correct the problem. He was operated on by MotoGP's favorite Spanish surgeon, Dr Xavier Mir, who used microsurgery to expand the fascia in the muscles in his right forearm. The surgery was deemed a success, and Pedrosa will be released from hospital tomorrow morning.

Stefan Bradl will be entering hospital for a similar operation just as Pedrosa is returning home. Bradl already had surgery in Barcelona, from the same Dr Mir, back in 2012, which fixed the problem in the rear part of his arm. Now, however, Bradl is suffering problems in the front of his arm, and is scheduled to undergo surgery on Wednesday morning in Germany, according to Speedweek

Both men should be fit for Le Mans, in two weeks time. Having surgery ahead of Le Mans was important, as the French circuit is very heavy on the brakes. This creates a lot of stress for riders' forearms, causing the muscle fibers to swell up and become trapped inside the fascia (the layer containing the muscle fibers), causing pain and a loss of blood flow.

Below is the press release from Repsol Honda on Pedrosa's surgery:


Pedrosa undergoes successful operation to treat compartmental syndrome

Repsol Honda rider, Dani Pedrosa, has undergone surgery to his right forearm on Tuesday morning, in a procedure carried out by Dr. Mir at the Hospital Universitario Quirón Dexeus and is confident he will recover in time for the French GP.

After an intense weekend of action at the Spanish Grand Prix, where Dani missed out on second place by just 0.098s, followed by a positive day of testing on Monday, Dani received surgery this morning to treat compartmental syndrome, in order to fix an ailment common amongst World Championship riders.

Due to discomfort in his right forearm, Dani was initially examined by Dr. Mir. After the consultation it was decided to carry out the operation immediately, in order to increase Dani’s chances to compete in the upcoming French Grand Prix. Dr. Mir used two incisions to enter the forearm, freeing the flexor and prone-extensor muscles in the appendage via minimally invasive microsurgery.

Dani will remain in hospital for 24 hours, and will need to keep his arm immobile for some days. Following this, he will begin functional recovery. If his healing progress goes according to plan, Dani should be able to take part in the next race on the MotoGP calendar, held in ten days at Le Mans, France.

Jerez was a tough round for MotoGP riders. Stefan Bradl suffered severe arm pump during the race on Sunday, where he finished in 10th place. But it seems that Dani Pedrosa was also suffering from a similar problem, despite riding to 3rd just short Valentino Rossi.Despite not mentioning the problem all weekend, Pedrosa underwent surgery on Tuesday to help correct the problem. He was operated on by MotoGP's favorite Spanish surgeon, Dr Xavier Mir, who used microsurgery to expand the fascia in the muscles in his right forearm. The surgery was deemed a success, and Pedrosa will be released from hospital tomorrow morning.Stefan Bradl will be entering hospital for a similar operation just as Pedrosa is returning home. Bradl already had surgery in Barcelona, from the same Dr Mir, back in 2012, which fixed the problem in the rear part of his arm. Now, however, Bradl is suffering problems in the front of his arm, and is scheduled to undergo surgery on Wednesday morning in Germany, according to Speedweek. 

Marc VDS Racing Mulling MotoGP Entry In 2015

The Marc VDS Racing team is considering moving up to MotoGP for the 2015 season. Team manager Michael Bartholémy has started the process which could lead to a MotoGP entry for next season.

A switch to MotoGP is far from being a foregone conclusion, Bartholémy was keen to emphasize. 'This is the first step in a long, political process,' he said. The first stage would consist of talks with Marc van der Straten, the Belgian brewing magnate who owns the eponymous team, here at Jerez, then again two weeks later at Le Mans.

Bartholémy would also have to liaise with Carmelo Ezpeleta to make sure that there was a grid slot available for the team should they choose to move up to MotoGP. 'The problem at the moment is that we do not have a place on the grid,' Bartholémy said.

No decision had been made regarding which bike the team might use. Bartholémy said that they were open to considering bikes from all the manufacturers, and would evaluate which manufacturer was the best option for the team. The team had offers from all of the manufacturers when they previously considered a switch to MotoGP in the middle of last season, with Scott Redding. In the end, they decided against the switch, and Redding moved up to MotoGP with the Go&Fun Gresini Honda team.

The question of who would ride for Marc VDS Racing if they did go up to MotoGP was clear for Bartholémy. 'Tito [Rabat] is our rider, and he's doing a fantastic job,' the Belgian said. Scott Redding joining Rabat with Marc VDS was unlikely, if not impossible. 'Scott has a contract with Honda, so HRC decides,' Bartholémy said. Whatever Marc VDS decide to do, Redding will be on a Factory Option Honda RC213V in 2015, '100% for sure,' Bartholémy said.

The Marc VDS Racing team is considering moving up to MotoGP for the 2015 season. Team manager Michael Bartholémy has started the process which could lead to a MotoGP entry for next season.A switch to MotoGP is far from being a foregone conclusion, Bartholémy was keen to emphasize. 'This is the first step in a long, political process,' he said. The first stage would consist of talks with Marc van der Straten, the Belgian brewing magnate who owns the eponymous team, here at Jerez, then again two weeks later at Le Mans.Bartholémy would also have to liaise with Carmelo Ezpeleta to make sure that there was a grid slot available for the team should they choose to move up to MotoGP. 'The problem at the moment is that we do not have a place on the grid,' Bartholémy said.

UPDATED: Forward Racing Boss Denies Reports That Colin Edwards Will Quit Racing After Jerez

The Jerez round of MotoGP could be the very last race for Colin Edwards. The Texas Tornado could relinquish his place in MotoGP directly after the Spanish race, to make way for another rider.

NGM Forward team boss Giovanni Cuzari told Italian Sky TV that there would be a meeting on Monday with Edwards to discuss his future with the team. Forward's sponsors are reportedly not happy with having Aleix Espargaro circulating at the front, while Edwards has been unable to match the pace of his teammate. 

Edwards has been unhappy with the Yamaha chassis from the very beginning, and had hoped to receive a chassis from FTR, which Forward had originally intended to race for 2014. However, Forward is alleged not to have paid FTR for the chassis, and the British chassis builder has refused to supply the frames, which are rumored to be now sitting idly in the company's headquarters in Buckingham.

If Edwards is forced to step down, then the most likely candidate to replace him is Danilo Petrucci. The young Italian could be moved out of the IODA Racing team to ride the Forward Yamaha. That would make room for Leon Camier, who originally signed with IODA to contest the 2014 season aboard the ART machine, but that deal fell through when IODA lost sponsorship, and could not afford to run two riders. Moving Petrucci to Forward and slotting Camier into IODA would resolve that situation.

Simone Corsi has also been linked to the ride, as the Forward Moto2 rider is set to test the bike during the MotoGP test on Monday. That, however, is to evaluate a move to MotoGP in 2015, rather than to move him up immediately.

UPDATE:

To check the veracity of the Italian TV reports, we went to Giovanni Cuzari to ask him what he had actually said. Cuzari claimed that Italian TV misinterpreted his words, and Edwards would be free to ride for the rest of his contract. When asked what he had told Italian television, Cuzari said "I tell them that the next race, starting on Monday, I would like to speak to my rider Colin Edwards, who has a deal with me to the end of the season, and I will 100% respect my deal. But, if he's uncomfortable to stay like this, he's able to do what he wants, nothing else."

"For me, I love Colin Edwards," Cuzari told us. "I build a lot of things with Colin Edwards. For me, he can stay to the end of the season, I'm only happy. But, if he's a little bit frustrated to stay like this, because one is on top and the other one is not in the first ten but in the last five position, for me I'm able to respect his decision. That's it."

Cuzari said he had not spoken to Edwards about the situation yet, but would speak to him on Monday. "After the race I will speak with my rider, and say, 'listen, what do you want to do? Do you want to wait for the new chassis or something like that, or would you prefer to make something different? For me, I am open for discussion, because I know that Colin is open to discussion as well.  Nothing else. The Italian journalists, every time they speak a little bit too much. They interpret a bit too much. But we are a serious team, we have a serious deal with Colin. Colin is my rider since three years, more than 100% our rider."

Did Cuzari want to see Edwards continue, or retire now, he was asked. "I don't know, because I'm not on the bike," Cuzari said. "When I was a rally driver, honestly speaking, and I start to see that I 'improve my belly' [put on some weight] and the lap time was a little bit worse, I say to my team, sorry guys, we continue with my team, I stay owner of my team in the rally championship, but I stop racing, because no way, it doesn't make sense, I was not competitive, you know? And for me, because Colin is a two-time world champion, he is a hero for me, I'm not happy to see my hero like this. This is the truth."

When asked about the situation with FTR, Cuzari denied that the relationship had broken down. "We still have a relationship with FTR, if they are ready to support us, we are ready to go ahead. Otherwise, fortunately we have our own consultants [to help build a chassis]," Cuzari said. When asked about allegations that Forward had failed to pay FTR, Cuzari flat out denied it. "Honestly is the opposite. But I don't want to go into details, because I'm a gentleman."

The Jerez round of MotoGP could be the very last race for Colin Edwards. The Texas Tornado could relinquish his place in MotoGP directly after the Spanish race, to make way for another rider.NGM Forward team boss Giovanni Cuzari told Italian Sky TV that there would be a meeting on Monday with Edwards to discuss his future with the team. Forward's sponsors are reportedly not happy with having Aleix Espargaro circulating at the front, while Edwards has been unable to match the pace of his teammate. Edwards has been unhappy with the Yamaha chassis from the very beginning, and had hoped to receive a chassis from FTR, which Forward had originally intended to race for 2014. However, Forward is alleged not to have paid FTR for the chassis, and the British chassis builder has refused to supply the frames, which are rumored to be now sitting idly in the company's headquarters in Buckingham.

Single Tire Supply Contract Process For MotoGP To Conclude 22nd May

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After the announcement that Bridgestone is to withdraw as single tire supplier to MotoGP at the end of the 2015, Dorna have been quick to announce the details of the tender process to find Bridgestone's replacement. The tender process will be concluded inside of the month of May, with tenders opening today, 1st May, and ending three weeks later on 22nd May.

Below is the press release announcing the tender process:


Official Tire supplier to MotoGP™ Tender

After seven years of collaboration it has been announced today in agreement with Dorna that Bridgestone will withdraw from the role of Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP™ at the end of 2015 season.

Dorna, in agreement with the FIM, has decided to call a tender for tyre manufacturers interested in becoming Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP™ from the 2016 season.

The Tender application starts today, the 1st May 2014, and will conclude on the 22nd May 2014.

All interested tyre manufacturers can request the technical specifications from Dorna’s Managing Director Javier Alonso.

Dorna Sports SL wishes to thank Bridgestone for the years of great collaboration and success in the championship.

After the announcement that Bridgestone is to withdraw as single tire supplier to MotoGP at the end of the 2015, Dorna have been quick to announce the details of the tender process to find Bridgestone's replacement. The tender process will be concluded inside of the month of May, with tenders opening today, 1st May, and ending three weeks later on 22nd May.Below is the press release announcing the tender process:

Bridgestone To Withdraw As MotoGP Single Supplier From 2015

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Bridgestone have announced that they will not continue as MotoGP tire supplier after the 2015 season. The Japanese tire maker will continue for the remainder of this season and throughout 2015 before pulling out of MotoGP.

The move had been expected. Spanish magazine Motociclismo reported two weeks ago that Bridgestone was on the brink of withdrawing, which we covered at the time. There had been growing dissatisfaction between the two parties over the past couple of years, with Bridgestone not feeling they were getting the exposure they needed for the 20 million euros they spend on the series, while Dorna felt that the tires were not contributing to the spectacle of racing, and were built so conservatively in terms of tire durability that they were occasionally unsafe.

At Austin, the first murmurings of the growing rift became audible. Paddock rumor held that Bridgestone, whose contract was due to expire at the end of 2014, had agreed a single year's extension to the end of 2015 to allow other tire suppliers time to develop their tires for MotoGP. With new technical regulations due to take effect from 2016 - all teams will use the spec ECU hardware and software from that point on - starting a new contract period from 2016 makes sense.

Who will take over as single tire supplier is as yet unknown, but that it will be a single supplier is certain. IRTA, representing the teams, is a big supporter of the single tire supplier, because of the cost savings for the private teams. Teams have all their tires supplied for free, rather than having to pay upwards of 30,000 euros per GP for tires under open contracts. The tire contract is due to go to tender in the next three weeks, meaning the new supplier should be know within a couple of months.

The candidates to take over are obvious. Dunlop, already supplying the Moto2 and Moto3 series, would be a natural candidate for MotoGP, giving them a monopoly inside the MotoGP series. Pirelli has experience in supplying tires to different specifications for different motorcycles in World Superbikes, one change which Dorna is likely to try to push through for the new spec tire supplier. And Michelin is rumored to already be testing 16.5" slick tires at various tracks around the world.

Whoever takes over as single tire supplier will face the same PR challenges that caused Bridgestone to withdraw. When racers win and everything goes well, nobody mentions the tires. When tire problems surface - with durabilty such as at Phillip Island last year, or Austin this year, or with cold temperatures causing crashes at some tracks - then the tire supplier receives masses of negative PR. The single tire supply offers a great deal of advertising opportunities, but it is very much a poisoned chalice.

Below is the press release announcing the change:


Bridgestone to cease MotoGP™ tire supply after 2015 season

Tokyo (May 1, 2014) - Bridgestone Corporation (Bridgestone) today announced that it will withdraw from the role of Official Tire Supplier to MotoGP™ at the end of 2015 season.

Bridgestone has supported the world’s best riders with continuous technological innovation aimed at developing safer and better performing tires since it first entered the MotoGP™ championship in 2002. During this time, the development and supply of MotoGP™ tires have been a major boost to Bridgestone’s technical ability, and brought a number of benefits that have enhanced Bridgestone’s brand globally. Having achieved the objectives it set out for itself in MotoGP™, Bridgestone will cease tire supply to the series at the end of 2015. Bridgestone expresses its deepest gratitude to the riders, teams and all parties concerned, as well as motorsport fans around the world, for their support over the years. Bridgestone will spare no effort in fulfilling its role of Official Tire Supplier to MotoGP™ until the end of the 2015 season, and will ensure the same superior levels of product and support during the rest of its tenure.

As a company engaged in enhancing the mobility of society, Bridgestone will continuously take part in motorsports with its full passion and do its best to promote motorsport as part of its new portfolio of activities.

About Bridgestone Corporation:

Bridgestone Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, is the world’s largest tire and rubber company. In addition to tires for use in a wide variety of applications, it also manufactures a broad range of diversified products, which include industrial rubber and chemical products and sporting goods. Its products are sold in over 150 nations and territories around the world.

Bridgestone have announced that they will not continue as MotoGP tire supplier after the 2015 season. The Japanese tire maker will continue for the remainder of this season and throughout 2015 before pulling out of MotoGP.The move had been expected. Spanish magazine Motociclismo reported two weeks ago that Bridgestone was on the brink of withdrawing, which we covered at the time. There had been growing dissatisfaction between the two parties over the past couple of years, with Bridgestone not feeling they were getting the exposure they needed for the 20 million euros they spend on the series, while Dorna felt that the tires were not contributing to the spectacle of racing, and were built so conservatively in terms of tire durability that they were occasionally unsafe.At Austin, the first murmurings of the growing rift became audible. Paddock rumor held that Bridgestone, whose contract was due to expire at the end of 2014, had agreed a single year's extension to the end of 2015 to allow other tire suppliers time to develop their tires for MotoGP. With new technical regulations due to take effect from 2016 - all teams will use the spec ECU hardware and software from that point on - starting a new contract period from 2016 makes sense.

Bridgestone To Offer Three Different Specs Of Front Tire For 2014

Bridgestone is to add an extra compound of front tire for MotoGP riders to choose from. After complaints from the teams over problems at some circuits, Bridgestone has responded by expanding the number of front tires allowed for each rider from 9 to 10, and adding an extra compound of front tire to help deal with differing conditions.

The change to the allocation had long been a wish of the MotoGP riders. Though Bridgestone's two selected compounds performed well under most conditions, a sudden drop in temperatures sometimes left riders and teams struggling. The problem was most pronounced in the morning sessions at circuits like Valencia and Aragon, where temperatures can be very cold. There were several front end crashes in those morning sessions, as tires struggled to get up to temperature. Adding a softer tire should make the morning practice sessions safer, and allow teams to work on setup without compromising safety.

The added tire also makes Bridgestone's job a little easier. The tire firm already produces rubber which works under an exceptionally wide range of temperatures and conditions, and expanding that to handle the more exceptional conditions was an expensive business. Adding a special softer tire for cold mornings means they can optimize their tire selection for expected conditions in the afternoon, giving teams better tires for the race.

Riders will initially be provided with 7 tires: 3 of the medium and 3 of the hard compound, and 1 of the softer compound. Adopting the terminology of Formula One, the medium and hard compounds will be viewed as the 'Prime' compounds, while the softer compound is regarded as the 'Option' tire. After practice on Thursday, riders will be allowed to select a further 3 tires, which can be 3 of any combination of the Prime tires, or 1 or 2 extra Option tires, plus the remainder in Prime tires.

By conceding to demands from Dorna and the Safety Commission, Bridgestone has (at least in part) demonstrated their willingness to solve some of the issues which remain with the single tire. Whether this should be regarded as a display that Bridgestone is still determined to retain the spec tire contract when it comes up for renewal at the end of this year remains to be seen.

The press release from Bridgestone explaining the change appears below:


Bridgestone expands front tyre allocation for MotoGP™ riders

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Bridgestone, the Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP™ has made a revision to the front slick tyre allocation system to give riders more choice and a greater number of tyres at each race weekend.

The change in the allocation means each rider will now be able to choose their front tyre allocation from three different compound options, whereas before only two compound options were available. Additionally, the total number of front slicks each rider can use per race weekend increases from nine to ten tyres. The decision to change the front slick tyre allocation was made following last weekend’s Argentina Grand Prix, where the provision of three front slick options for the inaugural race at Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo was welcomed by the riders and teams.

The change in front tyre allocation was ratified by the FIM and Dorna, and will take effect from this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.

Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department

“This change to the front slick tyre allocation will give riders greater choice at each race weekend, and will ensure that we have a tyre allocation that can manage any weather or track conditions encountered. MotoGP machines are becoming ever more demanding on tyres, with improved lap times and a greater variety in the performance characteristics between bikes, so an increased front tyre allocation will benefit everybody. Following the positive experience with the expanded front slick allocation at the Argentina Grand Prix, Bridgestone proposed to offer three front slick compound options to riders for the entire MotoGP season, and the FIM and Dorna have agreed to implement this change.”

Below is a summary of the new front tyre allocation system.

10 front slicks per rider (up from nine) from three compound options (up from two compounds)

Riders can select a maximum of six slicks in either of the two prime specification compounds, and a maximum of three of the option specification compound.

Each rider will receive an initial allocation of seven front tyres and can choose the rest of their allocation following FP2.

After FP2, each rider can choose three extra tyres to complete their allocation. The rider can choose a maximum of three front tyres in either of the prime allocation compounds. Alternatively, each rider can select a maximum of two front tyres from the option compound, plus one of the prime compounds to make up their full allocation of ten front tyres.

This table illustrates the front slicks available to every rider each weekend, up to a total of ten tyres. The yellow boxes indicate the riders’ initial tyre allocation.

  1 2 3 4 5 6
Prime (e.g. Medium)
Prime (e.g. Soft)
Option (e.g. Hard)      

The previous front tyre allocation system is shown below.

  1 2 3 4 5 6
Harder
Softer

 

Bridgestone is to add an extra compound of front tire for MotoGP riders to choose from. After complaints from the teams over problems at some circuits, Bridgestone has responded by expanding the number of front tires allowed for each rider from 9 to 10, and adding an extra compound of front tire to help deal with differing conditions.The change to the allocation had long been a wish of the MotoGP riders. Though Bridgestone's two selected compounds performed well under most conditions, a sudden drop in temperatures sometimes left riders and teams struggling. The problem was most pronounced in the morning sessions at circuits like Valencia and Aragon, where temperatures can be very cold. There were several front end crashes in those morning sessions, as tires struggled to get up to temperature. Adding a softer tire should make the morning practice sessions safer, and allow teams to work on setup without compromising safety.

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