MotoGP: Riders React To Bridgestone’s Withdrawal

Paul Carruthers | May 1, 2014

Photography by Gold & Goose
Bridgestone’s announcement that the 2015 season will be its last as the spec tire for the MotoGP World Championship didn’t come as a huge surprise, but it has the potential to have a large impact on the series. Nobody knows this more than those who rely on tires the most – the riders. The round black things are everything to them. They are their lifeblood.

“I’m a little bit worried because the last time I use the MotoGP bike without the Bridgestone tire is 2007,” Rossi said in today’s pre-Spanish Grand Prix press conference. “And when I switch [from Michelin] and try the Bridgestone it was a huge step – a big difference. So for this reason, I think for other manufacturers it will be difficult to arrive at the same level as Bridgestone. Is difficult to have the same tire that works well in different bikes. So I hope… usually if one tire is an advantage for one bike, maybe have some disadvantage for another bike. So maybe with this point of view we can make better, but I think the lap time that we see now and the rhythm in the race that we see now… maybe with some other tires will be without.”

Championship leader Marc Marquez knows nothing but Bridgestone tires when it comes to racing a MotoGP motorcycle. And he’s not without worry.

“I think will be difficult of course because Bridgestone take a lot of years to arrive in this level,” Marquez said. “And if some manufacturer arrive it will be difficult because we know the potential from the Bridgestone, but we know the problems that they have in the beginning – 2008, 09. All those years that we saw many crashes. Now is much better. Of course, never is perfect and never is enough for a rider, but for me will… for everybody the same, but for me will be a problem for all the manufacturers without the bike to develop another tire.”

Like Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo has seen the best and the worst of tires in MotoGP.

“Now the tire, especially the front one, has enormous performance,” Lorenzo said. “From my switch to Michelin to Bridgestone, I feel from the beginning that the front tire was unbelievable. And then we have some problems to warm up the tire in the first laps and Bridgestone was really hard and I was really happy for the work to solve this problem because I have many crash and a lot of riders have many crashes. If they have decided to stop we have to race with another factory and for me I would like if this other factory would have a lot of will to make the tires that we want.”

Marquez’s Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa is also a veteran who has used different tires and has also seen Bridgestone struggle early in their current contract deal. He knows that the change may be difficult.

“I don’t have any requests to ask,” Pedrosa said. “At the moment we are in a very good balance, we have a good tire and the tire has a good performance and it lasts long and safety-wise. As we’ve seen in the past, it takes time to make the tire perform well, safety, performance and fast. Sure at the beginning it is going to be a big change for the championship, for the riders, for the manufacturers, so the first thing you have to ask for is a safety tire because you are running at very high speeds. At some tracks the asphalt is aggressive to the tire and it might start to open so first thing you have to ask is for safety. Then we complain for performance.”

The riders were asked if there was something they’d like from the manufacturer who ends up as the spec tire in 2016 that they’re not getting now.

“I’ve obviously only ridden Bridgestone in this championship so I don’t have anything to compare it to,” Cal Crutchlow said. “The reality is for whoever comes in is true the riders… I’m not saying they will never say the tire is great, but we will always want more. That’s the problem and we always say there is a problem or we need to do this to improve and we never say it’s perfect. I think it’s very difficult for whichever tire manufacturer we’re using. To change something? If I had one thing I thought could help would be an intermediate tire for a condition that is pointless for us to go out on in the rain because now our bike has so much power and so much stopping capability we wreck the tire if the track is hard dry – but it’s too dangerous to go out on a slick if it is half wet. I think this would be one thing. I think Bridgestone is doing a great job, as I said. I think it’s difficult when you have all us riders always complaining and on different machines and always wanting more. The tire is the only thing that holds you to the ground and all the bikes react differently.”

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America’s Daily Motorcycle News Source.