The defection of Valentino Rossi from Michelin to Bridgestone at the end of the 2007 season sparked off a mass defection among the MotoGP riders, which eventually brought an end to the tire wars and saw the introduction of a single tire supplier in MotoGP for the 2009 season. Bridgestone - being the tire of choice among the top riders, after both Rossi and Dani Pedrosa had defected - was the riders' obvious favorite for the contract, but the Japanese tire giant was only sure of getting the contract once Michelin decided it would not submit a bid.
Since then, the battles in MotoGP have been fought with at least one weapon which all of the contestants know to be equal: the Bridgestone tires may have a very specific character, but the quality assurance from the Japanese company is outstanding, meaning very few bad tires make it to the track, and the randomized distribution system monitored by MotoGP's technical scrutineering department has enforced rigorous fairness.
So it comes as no surprise to learn that Bridgestone has been awarded a further three-year extension to the contract to supply tires in MotoGP. Bridgestone has the technology and the infrastructure already in place to continue to supply the series successfully, and the teams have mountains of data on the tires to base their race setup on.
There had been rumors late last year that Bridgestone's renewal was not a done deal. A large and very senior delegation from Pirelli turned up at the Valencia MotoGP round at the end of 2010, adding fuel to the speculation that the Italian company was interested in taking over the spec tire role in MotoGP as well. However, with the new Formula One contract and a continuing commitment to World Superbikes, supplying MotoGP as well may have been a bridge too far for the Italian company.
And so MotoGP riders have another three years of learning to deal with the Bridgestones characteristics: stellar levels of grip, a wide operating temperature range, but a tendency to lose grip once the tire temperature drops outside that range, forcing riders to keep heat in the tires by loading them as much as possible. It is a difficult balance to maintain, but once mastered, it allows astonishing cornering speeds.
Here's the official Bridgestone press release:
Bridgestone extend role as Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP with new three-year deal
Bridgestone Corporation announced today that Bridgestone and Dorna Sports have signed a new three-year deal that will see the Japanese manufacturer continue as the Official Tyre Supplier to the premier class of the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) MotoGP World Championship from 2012-2014.
The new contract means that Bridgestone will continue to provide tyres and technical support to every team and rider on the premier class grid as the championship enters the new era of increased engine capacity, up from 800cc to 1000cc.
Already the Official Tyre Supplier to the premier class since 2009, Bridgestone has received positive support from the riders, the FIM, Dorna, the Motorcycle Sports Manufacturers Association (MSMA) and the International Road Racing Teams Association (IRTA), all who have expressed a strong desire to continue the relationship.
Since entering the championship's top category, then 500cc, in 2002, it took just two years for the first win on Bridgestone. In 2009 Bridgestone was named the championship's first Official Tyre Supplier, after just seven seasons of competition.
As of the end of the 2010 season, four World Championship Titles, 70 Grand Prix victories and 197 podiums have been scored in the premier class using Bridgestone tyres.
Mikio Masunaga, Vice President and Senior Officer Member of the Board Responsible for Motorsport, Bridgestone Corporation
"Firstly I'd like to send our deepest condolences to the people suffering from last week's terrible Pacific Coast of Tohoku Earthquake Disaster. We sincerely hope that quality of life and a sense of normality can be restored for all those affected by this tragedy and Bridgestone group promise to help with the relief and recovery effort.
"Turning our attention for a moment towards out motorsport activities though, I am proud that we are able to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to MotoGP by extending our participation as Official Tyre Supplier to the premier class with a new three-year deal. Bridgestone has a very rich heritage in the leading motorsport categories across the world, and MotoGP represents a significant part of this heritage.
"I am encouraged that we can continue what has been a very successful relationship with the premier class of motorcycle road racing over the past nine years. I would like to thank the riders, the FIM, Dorna, the MSMA and IRTA for their support of us, in particular over the last two years as Official Tyre Supplier.. MotoGP is a key global platform for Bridgestone both in carrying our brand and messages to an international audience and in enabling us to develop and prove our products and technical expertise on the world stage. I believe our involvement in MotoGP will enable us to continually improve the safety and performance of our consumer tyres."
Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO, Dorna
"From Dorna we want to send our sincere condolences to the families of the victims of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan. It was a natural disaster that has left us stunned and saddened by its magnitude, but we are sure that a country such as Japan will overcome a situation such as this.
"I am very pleased that we can continue to work closely with Bridgestone for another three years after this season, and I would like to thank them for their continued commitment to MotoGP. Bridgestone has a great track record in all forms of motorsport, in particular MotoGP, and has done a great job since they were appointed the championship's first ever Official Tyre Supplier so we all know they are up to the task this season and over the following three years. Their ongoing commitment at this early point is important in allowing us all to plan for the future, especially for the teams as they are already underway with their development plans for next year and the new 1000cc era, and I believe it also demonstrates the value of MotoGP as a business platform."