Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The magic of the Michelin mystery

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 magic of the Michelin mystery

MotoGP is in a great place at the moment – brilliant racing and unpredictable results – thanks partly to the work of one company

Motorcycle racing is all about grip and traction. That’s all that really matters, because everything is worth zilch unless you can transfer it to the racetrack. You may have the fastest engine, the best brakes or the sweetest-handling chassis, but none of these things mean much unless you have the grip to exploit them.

This is the reality in MotoGP now more than ever. And this is one reason why MotoGP is so unpredictable.

On Sunday, Andrea Dovizioso topped the Brno podium after finishing a fraction ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Márquez in the eighth-closest finish in premier-class history. This was the first time the trio has appeared together on the podium this year. Indeed the same three riders haven’t appeared together on the podium once during the first 10 races of 2018. Compare that to the Bridgestone control-tyre era, when more often than not the same groups of riders – Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo, or Márquez, Valentino Rossi and Lorenzo – stood on the podium with monotonous regularity.

How come? Because Michelin tackles MotoGP in a very different way. This, plus the similarity in performance between the 'bikes, is what’s created racing that’s almost impossible to predict.

It’s a bit complicated, but here goes…

First, Bridgestone brought three different front and rear slicks to each track to cover all possible temperatures, thus there was a marked difference between the soft, medium and hard, so most riders usually chose the exact same tyres for the race. Michelin also aims to cover all conditions, but its three compounds are much closer together because the French company wants all of those tyres to be potential race tyres, each helping different riders get the best out of their 'bikes. So a greater variety of tyres usually gets chosen for the race, which makes the racing more exciting, because every rider has an advantage in different parts of the track and at different stages of the race.

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

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Total votes: 12
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Comments

From Mr. Oxley. I love this sort of technical side of things. Tires will never run out of fashion in Motorsports! Cool to see riders being forced to use their brains so much. I would love to see flat out racing from the get go like in Assen of course but I also like to see the 'cerebral' races of Brno where the tension gets built. I just hope MotoGP maintains this knife edge properly unlike F1!

Total votes: 13

Looks like Michelin has hit the sweet spot as sole tire supplier:   offering a variety of options to suit different styles like you'd have with different tire manufacturers, while avoiding the pitfall of top teams monopolizing tire brands (think Michael Schumacher and Bridgestone in 90's and 00's.).

It's funny you don't hear many voices anymore calling for fewer regulations compared to when Dorna first started making changes with 800s and CRTs.   Dorna and Michelin are doing a fantastic job.

Total votes: 10

I don't know, riding around waiting for the last 3 laps and hoping they have a tyres left makes me lose interest I'm afraid. Dunlop have it sorted in Moto2.

I live in hope for Austria.    

Total votes: 13