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.
The tyre that may change everything
Sunday’s Italian GP marks one-third distance in the 2017 MotoGP championship, but Mugello may be the start of a new championship
There is no part on a racing motorcycle more important than the front tyre. Everything comes from the front tyre: the all-important rider feel, corner-entry speed, mid-corner speed and therefore corner-exit speed.
And this weekend Michelin changes its front tyre for the remaining 13 races; from the 06, used at the first five races, to the 70, which features a stiffer casing.
Everyone knows it was Valentino Rossi who preferred the 70 from preseason testing, but the majority preferred the 06, so the 70 was put aside and everyone went racing with the 06. But as soon as riders started digging deeper, most realised they wanted a stiffer front, which would deform less during braking and entry.
At Le Mans a vote was taken, following back-to-back tests at Jerez. Twenty riders voted to switch to the 70 and only three voted to keep the 06.
In other words, this isn’t a Rossi deal, as many social-media conspiracy theorists would have it. Rossi likes a stiffer front tyre, but so does a clear majority, including Suzuki and the Honda riders, who need a stiffer casing to access the RC213V’s great strength: braking. “I’ve said all year the front is too soft,” says Cal Crutchlow.
All the riders in the title battle want the new tyre; except one: Maverick Viñales. The current points leader is suspicious of the 70. “In some cases the 70 is not working, we crash many times,” he says. His concern is that the stiffer casing doesn’t flex so much, which is better on a hot track, but possibly worse in cooler conditions, when riders work the tyre less, which generates less heat and less grip.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.