The tire allocation for MotoGP is set to be expanded when the new tire supplier takes over from 2016. The numbers of tires supplied to each rider will be increased by one or two tires per rider, and each rider will have the option of three different compounds front and rear. But perhaps the most welcome change will be the return of intermediate tires to MotoGP, for use in practice conditions which are too dry for rain tires, but too damp and dangerous for slick tires to be used.
The expansion in number and compounds was a contributory factor in Bridgestone deciding to pull out of MotoGP, the series safety officer Loris Capirossi told MotoMatters.com. 'We started talking with Bridgestone in the middle of last year to understand the situation, because as everybody knows, the contract finishes at the end of 2014,' Capirossi said. 'We told them the situation is like this, we have to try to modify that part, we have to try to increase a little bit the number [of tires], we have to try to make the intermediate tire, just some points. Like Carmelo [Ezpeleta] said, we were talking and talking, but in the end Bridgestone decided to stop.' Capirossi expressed Dorna's gratitude to Bridgestone for agreeing to extend the contract for a single year through 2015. 'We talked to Bridgestone again about continuing for one more year, because it is important for us to work on [the tire situation]. Bridgestone understood our situation, and decided to stop at the end of 2015,' the Italian said.
There are three main candidates to replace Bridgestone, Capirossi said. 'We are already talking officially with Dunlop and Michelin. We are talking unofficially with Pirelli also, but we haven't received an official request yet. That [process] is still going on until the 22nd of this month. Then the process will be closed on the 22nd, and Dorna and the MSMA will decide what is the best way to go.'
Capirossi ruled out any return to open tire competition, as well as any radical shake up of the tire supply regulations. 'We don't want to change the rules,' the Italian said. 'It will still be a mono tire rule. We don't want to make 100 types of tire.' The new tire supplier would have to put considerable effort into development, however. 'When you start working with a new supplier, it's difficult, because we have to work really hard in the beginning to try to find the best solution for everybody. We have asked [the candidates] for many things, for development we asked for a lot of tests. We are just waiting for their answers, for their plans, so we can start to work.'
That work will be an intensive exercise for whoever is awarded the initial contract, especially in the run up to 2016. 'We will have to prepare 100 different types of tire to start the development, to find the best solution, the best tire working for all of the bikes, like Bridgestone did in the last couple of years. This is the target we wanted to follow,' Capirossi told MotoMatters.com.
Though Dunlop, Michelin and Pirelli have all expressed an interest in becoming official tire supplier, Michelin is widely tipped as the favorite to win the contract. The French company has stepped up its test program recently, with riders testing Michelin's 16.5" slicks in Italy and France in recent weeks.