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.
MotoGP tyre disasters: a history
MotoGP is going through a tough time with tyres, but how long has this been going on?
It is Michelin’s home MotoGP round this weekend; in theory a time for celebration, even though the French company hasn’t had the easiest of returns to a class of racing that it ruled almost continuously from 1974 to 2006.
First came Scott Redding’s delaminating tyre in Argentina; which had Michelin hurriedly deploying stiffer rear casings that had riders battling wheelspin in sixth gear at a dry and sunny Jerez.
Somewhere there must be a happy medium. But perhaps there isn’t, at least not for everyone, because this is the curse of the control tyre: how do you design a tyre that works equally well for 78kg Redding and for 51kg Dani Pedrosa?
The answer to that question is that you can’t. It’s a nonsense that control tyres give everyone the same chance – they will always suit some bikes and riders better than they suit others.
Quite rightly, Michelin has copped some flack in recent weeks; just as Bridgestone did when it got it wrong. But was Redding the first GP rider to get a slap in the back from a chunk of disintegrating rear tyre?
No, he wasn’t. But who was? When MotoGP bikes arrived in 2002, some doomsayers predicted that companies building tyres for 190bhp, 130kg 500cc two-strokes wouldn’t be able to cope with 220bhp, 150kg 990cc four-strokes.
Their prophecies came true at Mugello 2004. Shinya Nakano was hurtling his factory Kawasaki down the start-finish straight when his rear Bridgestone overheated and self-destructed at close to 200mph, hurling the hapless Japanese to the ground, where he came to rest right next to a trackside wall. A few months earlier Kenny Roberts Junior had crashed in similar circumstances at Sepang when his rear Bridgestone failed.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.