Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How tyres could decide the 2015 MotoGP title

MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.


How tyres could decide the 2015 MotoGP title

Let’s do some maths: nine races gone and nine to go, so it’s halfway time when we get to examine the past with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight and pretend we’ve got even the slightest clue about what’s going to happen next.

If we take Sunday’s German GP and extrapolate that result all the way to Valencia, Marc Márquez will record a famous comeback world-title victory. However, if Márquez, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo each win three of the remaining nine races, while recording podium finishes in the other six, then Rossi will most likely make history with a 10th world title, 18 years after his first. The possibilities are endless, of course, though it might be fun if someone fed the data into a supercomputer. Please be my guest…

What the supercomputer would fail to take into account is tyres. But MotoGP runs a control-tyre rule, so all the riders run the same tyres, right?

Not exactly. During the 18-race season Bridgestone make a total of 17 different rear tyres available, usually limited to two different types per race. So, not much room for personal advantage or disadvantage? In fact, even within this narrow allocation there is room for Rossi or Márquez to find more speed than Lorenzo with one tyre, and vice versa.

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

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Comments

So much for the spec tire rule prventing tires from deciding the championship. We've gone from talking about tires during the tire war to.....talking about tires during the tire peace. However instead of tire companies and riders having a chance to improve and develop the tires, we are subject to BS' reluctance to invest in their main product. Great! Not.

Just the fact that we can look at the tire specs being brought to the next races and decide with pretty good accuracy who will have an advantage is pathetic. Oh, I forgot, its to entertain us! In that case its a-OK.

Chris

The fact that competition is nowadays so close that the layering of the (common) rubber is what determines (partly) who wins and who loses is amazing, in my opinion. And even so, Jorge won Mugello on his 'bad' tyre. We are treated to proper races, more often than not, instead of parades. Cheer up! :)

Is just not a valid comparison. Today everyone starts from exactly the same point. If someone is going fast with a certain style there is nothng stopping orhers following suit. For example, Rossi has re-invented himself with a more Marquez approach, even finding a new wrinkle as Mr Oxley alluded to. Smith likewise seems to be adopting a more Lorenzo-like technique with some success.

Versus the old days where your options for bridging the gap between the "specials" and the "regulars" were precisely ZERO.

So there is no "WOOPS", instead there is a huge improvement.

At the end it alludes to the fact that it could be very hard to predict who the winner will be due to tires.

And to the contrary it looks like BStone have invested mucho pesos in their tires for this year lap records going haywire, asymmetric front working like a charm in Germany.

Lorenzo bitching about tires is nothing new, he has to blame something after all.

Perhaps you forget all the times Rossi bitched?

And when he quietly bitched, he got special tires flown in the very next day. Michelin's Saturday Night Specials unfairly helped him win more than one title.

Remember Tiger Toni? His lone Moto GP victory was an exciting affair at Portugal in 2006. For that race he got to use some Michelins that were intended for Dani Pedrosa. What a difference a tire makes!

What about Garry McCoy? He had a unique style that prolly was dependent on the tires available.

I wish they could make tires that allow each rider to exploit his strengths, but I understand the costs are prohibitive. Just the same, this has been an exciting season. I hope the second half is equally good.

But I sure wish we could see people sliding around like Toni did that day in Estoril and like Gazzy did more often than not.

Name for me a combatant who never bitched about tires. The mere fact that Bridgestone supply the entire grid at present is borne out of 2007 and Rossi bitching about Michelin tires vs Stoner's Bridgestones.
I will have my bitch too. 2015 involves a swathe of tire options for 3 classes within what should be a single class.
Anyway, I don't see this Title as done and dusted in any particular M1 rider's favour on Bridgestone rubber. The Championship only needs to see a couple of injudicious moves to see the whole title chase turned on its head going into the second half.
Right now, the title chase has been a respectfull silk road. Its almost like it has been choreographed by a movie maker.
Bloody boring, but we watch anyway.
Rock on 2016 and I hope Michelin treat the whole grid equally and do not pander to pressure from factory riders and their teams. We have seen enough of that in the past.

I'm assuming you are talking about the 2015 MotoGP season?
Boring is about the last word I would use to describe this classic/titanic/mega/champvschamp season.
I feel privileged to see these guys go at it this season. Even the races where JL99 has checked out, you get the sense VR46 just might catch him.
MM93 being back to his reckless, fearless best. Suzuki working magic with their slick chassis. Aprillia making steady progress. Life is good as a MGP fan :))

Your disdain for Rossi is showing in your comment.

Michelin could have stayed. If a rider wants to switch tries, then that should be up to him. Especially, if the tire manufacturer can't make it to his liking.

Secondly, this season has been anything but 'bloody boring'. You might think so because your guy is not winning. It's ok to feel that way, but just say so.

Great article Mat! Rossi's F wheel width, and other such lesser heard specifics much appreciated. Well balanced article. Most of us on here don't need many weights on the rims either. A few (noisy) ones here are pretty wobbly, but are still thoughtful about it.

Great season. And next year seems fair to anticipate as REALLY interesting. Re 2015, if we think back when have we had such a close fight between interesting riders of varied style? So many manufacturers? Four riders can win races over the next 9 races, and we could be surprised by someone else.

I don't see much in it to complain about the Open bikes unless also looking fwd to 2016 in the next breath. And regarding the single tire supplier, as a concern it seems further down the "to do list" than much of what has been addressed in the rule changes for next year.

Not only is 2015 a really interesting season for me, where we are relative to mini - eras since the change to 800's is a great step. And 2016...as soon as I stop grinning from the end of this championship battle I will be GLUED to the upcoming one. You have to try pretty hard not to be pleased here from my seat!
;)

I can see both sides to this argument.

This year really is no different than the last few with only Yamaha and Honda factory riders standing a chance at a podium (early Ducati success notwithstanding). The early days of Ducati acting like a contender that can shake up the podium positions seem like a distant memory. Add to that, the rule changes mid-season to keep the red machines down with the satellite bikes. I mean really, if you play the fantasy motogp game, you can generally group the same riders and set them randomly for a decent chance at getting it right on any given week with no research whatsoever.

In no particular order

1-4 = Rossi/Marquez/Lorenzo/Pedrosa
5-12 = Iannone/Crutchlow/Smith/Dovizioso/A. Espargaro/P. Espargaro/Vinales/Y. Hernandez & Petrucci [MINUS 2 or 3 NC's per race]
12-?? = {starting from the B's} Barbara/Bautista/Bradl/Baz/Redding ... Miller/Hayden/et al

I would say that isn't too different than the last few years.

However, I can also see that what is not as common these days. You can no longer take for granted that:

- Marquez will "find a way" to keep from crashing and pull out the win (though he may be more competitive with the switch back to the old chassis in upcoming tracks)
- that Rossi will find a way to come from 8th on the grid to challenge for the win every time he qualifies behind Ducatis and/or Suzukis
- that Lorenzo will streak away once he hits the front on the first lap ... at least on the last couple of tracks. We'll see what happens after the break.

Anyway, next year seems to hold the most promise of shaking things up and creating real drama of the unknown. Well, at least until ...

- the unchangeable rules are changed to favor the big factories if they fail to keep dominating
- the combination of spec electronics with new tires start sending riders into orbit or despair (see Marco Melandri for a preview of despair)
- Michelin is beaten with the tire supplier contract they signed for making the playing field even (allowing Dorna to 'request' tire compound allocations which will favor certain teams and riders for the sake of the show).

[Note: I have no facts or basis for the Michelin comment, just sayin' ...]

All in all, I feel that there is more of interest (even if not all that different) to see this year than the last few where one pass a race was all the action you were going to get. In those days, a Bautista 1st lap lunge was something to look forward to. I'll take this year over those any day.

I don't see any situation in which watching the best riders in the world fighting for the win is boring. Not every race is going to be a classic but as far as percentages go this year has had more than it's fair share already.

Calling MotoGP boring because the same four guys are at the front is ridiculous. It's not who wins that make it entertaining it is how they win.

I admit that i am worried for these riders next year. I just fear too many new variables are being thrown at them with same expected of their factories - throw a leg over it and pin the throttle.
I remeber the affects of Bridgestone 'winning' the tire supplier contract (did anyone else even submit a bid?) and my memories tell me that riders were being spit off their bikes too frequently and i know some will say that was the fault of the 800cc era with high cornerspeed, but the tires were not warming up in the beginning. Earlier reporting from David indicated a bunch of the riders were having high speed offs at the Michelin tests this year (or late last year - forgive me for not remembering). What riders are saying these tires are ok? Colin Edwards is fast, but before his retiremwnt he was waayyy off pace. Is he the best for the job?

And i worry about these electronics too. With what David and others have feported on, i would not have the confidence to get out of pit lane and go balls out. And before you call me a worry wart, remwmber crom David's earlier writngs - these guys don't adapt to or handle change well as it breaks their concentration. Hope every sees their bones in tact through 2016.

Regarding Pit Bull's comments, while Rossi carries a disproportionate influence on grid given his success, numerous riders defected to Bridgestone after Michelin's horrible showing for two seasons. Memory tells me it was Dani's move that broke their back.

for several years. infact MO could write a article how tyres decided the 2014 title. even more in 2007 with michelin vs bridgestone. i believe 2012 even with the softer carcass the honda riders didnt like. So this is nothing new and this article says nothing new or interessting.

i say this is 1 of the wors MO articles i ever read. no insight no news and it wasnt worth writing

I thought it was interesting to learn about 46's team changing wheel width. Anyway , I enjoy all MO articles . He writes in an entertaining style and I usually learn something.

Tire Wars. I'm glad this years tires are causing so much sharing of opinions.
It is really interesting to read how others see the tire rules.

I support the one supplier idea but I think more choice of tires should be availible.
To eplain... I think the one supplier rule limits specials being made over night to match the rider, track, bike design, weather conditions that gave some riders hugh advantages.
BUT NOW we have not just one supplier but a major limiting of selection,
due mostly because of cost.

If the goal is to level the field and have more guys running at the front.
Give them all a good selection to choice from, have each of the top guys on a tire that suits them best, stop the cost cutting, have them battle because they have tires.
NOT because of this weeks track, tire combination, happens to suit their style.
THIS will help provide the spectacular that we crave, which will helps fill the stands,
and helps pays the costs.

Sorry this should be addressed to Dorna, I hope they are reading. :)

Agree more Jaycee, the problem is as we see in narrow focus at the front-the disparity between the Aliens when the rubber supply alters, as I've said many times this year as soon as the harder rubber has come into play Jorge has been back down fighting for 4th-its only the fact that the Ducatis have suffered far worse that he has managed decent results in the last 2 rounds, and vice-versa when the softer medium comes back-however Rossi at least is fairing better with this option now.

The disparity really exists further down the field, particularly with the Ducatis and the tech 3 bikes and of course Suzuki. I don't know what the financial solution is-but more rubber options is the only solution.

Interesting that Toni's in Estoril 2006 was mentioned here again, 9 years ago was the last Satelite win-during the tyre war with no restrictions. And lets not forget Michelin's demise in 2007 was primarily due to the new supply regulation, which Bridgestone lobbied for. Rule changes to try to enforce some type of level playing field by 'restricting' have only seemed to move the goalposts and widen the gap. This history doesn't auger well for the 'control' ECU....