Cycle News

Cycle News 2014 Issue 19 May 13

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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Page 122 of 125

I s there anybody out there who would like to spend a great deal of money over several years, in return for a constant torrent of abuse from the riders? Only tire companies need ap- ply. Because what you have to do to earn this great racing prize is to make large quantities of highly specialized tires, many of which will be used for only a handful of miles, and some not at all. Bridgestone's unexpected de- cision to quit as MotoGP control tire supplier at the end of next season follows five-and-a-bit years of exactly that. Of course, the up side is that your tires win every race, giving opportunities for serial bragging. Although the Japanese company earned a little more scorn within the pad- dock when they celebrated their 200th win. It wasn't as if they were beating anybody else. In racing, it is given that tires take the blame, and not just for crashes. Poor rider perfor- mance, dodgy suspension set- tings or brakes, poor chassis in- tegrity? Blame the tires. Bikes and riders win races, tires lose them. There is a way to reverse the tide. Quit. When Bridgestone an- nounced its decision on the eve of the Spanish GP, the sea-change was notable, as riders and tech- nicians now revealed a previously well-concealed respect and, yes, even liking for Bridgestones. They had listened to the riders, they had made great strides in both en- durance and safety. Whoever will step up to take their place, opined pretty much everybody, will have an extremely hard job to get even close. Many predicted the return of the highside, and a surge of new business for the Clinica Mobile; one Honda teamster gave the gloomy opinion that they would be obliged to design and build at least seven different chassis, then test exhaustively to find out which one will work. There aren't many candidates for the role. Dunlop is one; Pire- lli is thought unlikely, but the fa- vorite is Michelin, formerly the dominant tire, and known to have been sniffing around. In spite of their objection, when control tires were proposed seven years ago, to contesting a racing series unopposed. Control tires came about partly because of a couple of blunders by Michelin, following a spell of increasing arrogance that ignored the steady progress of their new- comer rivals from Japan. Having seen off Dunlop, the French company was in a posi- tion not only to win every race but also to decide who would win – thanks for a capacity to tailor- make special tires for the prevail- ing conditions of the weekend. They'd slap a few together on Saturday, ship them out over- night for Sunday's race, and give them to Valentino Rossi. A matter that enraged Casey Stoner, and made his 2007 title victory on Bridgestones all the sweeter. Bridgestone had taken four years to get up to speed; while BY MICHAEL SCOTT CN III IN THE PADDOCK THE TIRES THEY ARE A CHANGIN' P122

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