After all the speculation, machinations and backroom dealing, the deed is finally done. This morning, 9am Japanese time, the Grand Prix Commission, the body in which teams, manufacturers and organizers decide on the rules which goverrn MotoGP, decided unanimously to switch the series to a single tire supplier. The Commission issued a timetable for the switch, which requires proposals from tire manufacturers to be submitted by October 3rd, the Friday of the Phillip Island Grand Prix, with a decision on those proposals from the Grand Prix Commission due on October 18th.
Michelin has already announced that they are considering submitting a proposal, and Dunlop Racing's Jeremy Ferguson told Eurosport commentators Toby Moody and Julian Ryder during the broadcast of the 250cc race that Dunlop was not interested in being the supplier for the MotoGP series. However, the favorite to get the contract is Bridgestone, as any other outcome would be unpalatable for the big name riders who have publicly switched to the Japanese tires in recent years.
The change will also mean the end of qualifying tires. With the FIM and Dorna effectively having control over the supply of tires, they will be able to restrict the types of tires available, and ensure that soft tires which only last a single lap will not be made available to the teams. According to Ezpeleta, the qualifying format will stay as it is, a single, hour-long session on Saturday, but qualification will be done on race tires.
The reasons cited for the change were safety and costs. While costs will reduce for the teams, as they will be given tires for free, the safety aspect is less obvious. The decision is aimed at stopping corner speeds increasing so quickly, but that can only really be achieved if development effectively stops on the tires. It seems more likely that additional measures will have to be taken at some point, but the problem arises if the change doesn't achieve the desired effect.
If corner speeds continue to rise - and as the corners are the slowest part of the track, there is more to be gained by increasing speeds there - then the temptation to introduce more regulation will be overwhelming. The first change is likely to be the reintroduction of treaded tires, as predicted by Alan Cathcart over a year ago in an interview with Dean Adams on the Superbikeplanet.com podcast, Soupkast. But if that doesn't help, then further tinkering, in the form of restrictions on electronics, a single ECU, further reductions in fuel capacity, etc are now more likely to be introduced than before.
We will bring you further news as and when it emerges.