The FIM has announced new tire regulations to be used for the 2007 season.
Two points in the rules stand out:
2.9.3 Teams that are supplied by a tyre manufacturer that has achieved at least two MotoGP race wins in dry conditions since the first race of the 2005 season will be restricted in the quantity of slick tyres that each of the teams riders may use at a single event as follows:
During all practice sessions, warm up and the race a maximum of 31 slick tyres, specifically -
Front tyres: 14
Rear tyres: 17
When a tyre manufacturer, not subject to the limitation at the beginning of the season, achieves two MotoGP wins in dry conditions during the current season, it will become subject to the restrictions at the third event after the one where the second win was achieved.
2.9.4 Between 12.00 hrs. and 17.00 hrs. on the day prior to the start of official practice, the Technical Director will mark the tyres available to each entered rider.
This basically means two things:
- All slick tires to be used for a race must be inside the parc fermé by 5pm on the Thursday before a race weekend (or Wednesday at Assen and Qatar);
- Teams will have to be much more careful about using tires during qualifying. If you're only allowed 17 rears, then using up 2 qualifiers on Friday and 3 on Saturday takes a big chunk out of your tire choice for the race.
The other interesting exemption is for Dunlop (being the only manufacturer not having won 2 Grand Prix since the start of the 2005 season). This measure must give them a real chance to catch up with Bridgestone and Michelin in the development of their tires. It will be interesting to see if the other manufacturers cry foul over the fact that one of the signatures to the new rule change is Hervé Poncharal, team manager for the Dunlop-shod Tech 3 Yamaha team, in his capacity of IRTA representative.
These moves will make racing cheaper for the non-factory teams, but will also make tire choice even more critical. Expect to see the first few races of the 2007 season decided by poor tire choice. Whether this will be good for fans or not remains to be seen, but it will certainly add even more uncertainty into the mix.