Michelin has been named as the official tire supplier for MotoGP starting from 2016. The French tire manufacturer will take over the role from Bridgestone when Bridgestone leaves at the end of 2015 season.
The official announcement confirms the worst kept secret in the paddock. Michelin had been widely trailed as being awarded the contract, as the French firm had shown the most interest. Unofficial talks had taken place with Pirelli, and Dunlop had made a formal request for information, but Michelin was the only tire maker to submit a bid. Michelin has already been testing its 16.5" slicks at Vallelunga and Clermont Ferrand in preparation for a bid.
The bid to become single tire supplier marks something of a turnaround for the French tire maker. When Dorna decided to go to a single supplier in 2008, Michelin did not enter a bid, saying that they had no interest in racing if there was no competition. As more and more race series have gone single supplier, that position has become untenable. Tire development can happen, but it is driven by corporate goals rather than competition, as Bridgestone explained when they announced their decision to withdraw.
The fact that Michelin was the only tire manufacturer to submit a bid raises questions over the financial side of the contract. Bridgestone are reported to be paying some 22 million euros annually for the contract, but with Bridgestone out of the running, and Michelin the only party showing any interest, the question is whether Michelin got the contract at a bargain price. Commercial details of the deal will not be officially revealed, and so we are unlikely to get an official answer to that question.
The awarding of the contract is just the first step along the way. Next up will be the hammering out of a commercial agreement, which will include details on the quantity and variety of tires to be supplied. Dorna is known to want more tires at the races, but more particularly, they want more tires for testing. Testing will continue with test riders for the moment, with the first contact for all MotoGP riders likely to come at the first Sepang test of 2015, to provide feedback on the development process.
Below is the official press release announcing the deal:
Michelin to become MotoGP™ Official Tyre supplier
Following French tyre manufacturer Michelin’s official tender, Dorna is pleased to announce that Michelin is to become the Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP™ as of the 2016 World Championship season.
At the beginning of May 2014 Dorna, in agreement with the FIM, opened a tender for tyre manufacturers interested in becoming Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP™ from the 2016 season.
Interested tyre manufacturers were able to request the technical specifications from Dorna’s Managing Director Javier Alonso, with three potential tyre suppliers initially expressing an interest – before Michelin alone made a formal tender before the 22nd May deadline.
The next step in the process will be the drawing out of a commercial agreement between Dorna and Michelin as Official Tyre Supplier, Michelin having already clearly proven its technical abilities to respond to the needs of a demanding Grand Prix racing schedule.