Bridgestone To Withdraw As MotoGP Single Supplier From 2015

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Bridgestone have announced that they will not continue as MotoGP tire supplier after the 2015 season. The Japanese tire maker will continue for the remainder of this season and throughout 2015 before pulling out of MotoGP.

The move had been expected. Spanish magazine Motociclismo reported two weeks ago that Bridgestone was on the brink of withdrawing, which we covered at the time. There had been growing dissatisfaction between the two parties over the past couple of years, with Bridgestone not feeling they were getting the exposure they needed for the 20 million euros they spend on the series, while Dorna felt that the tires were not contributing to the spectacle of racing, and were built so conservatively in terms of tire durability that they were occasionally unsafe.

At Austin, the first murmurings of the growing rift became audible. Paddock rumor held that Bridgestone, whose contract was due to expire at the end of 2014, had agreed a single year's extension to the end of 2015 to allow other tire suppliers time to develop their tires for MotoGP. With new technical regulations due to take effect from 2016 - all teams will use the spec ECU hardware and software from that point on - starting a new contract period from 2016 makes sense.

Who will take over as single tire supplier is as yet unknown, but that it will be a single supplier is certain. IRTA, representing the teams, is a big supporter of the single tire supplier, because of the cost savings for the private teams. Teams have all their tires supplied for free, rather than having to pay upwards of 30,000 euros per GP for tires under open contracts. The tire contract is due to go to tender in the next three weeks, meaning the new supplier should be know within a couple of months.

The candidates to take over are obvious. Dunlop, already supplying the Moto2 and Moto3 series, would be a natural candidate for MotoGP, giving them a monopoly inside the MotoGP series. Pirelli has experience in supplying tires to different specifications for different motorcycles in World Superbikes, one change which Dorna is likely to try to push through for the new spec tire supplier. And Michelin is rumored to already be testing 16.5" slick tires at various tracks around the world.

Whoever takes over as single tire supplier will face the same PR challenges that caused Bridgestone to withdraw. When racers win and everything goes well, nobody mentions the tires. When tire problems surface - with durabilty such as at Phillip Island last year, or Austin this year, or with cold temperatures causing crashes at some tracks - then the tire supplier receives masses of negative PR. The single tire supply offers a great deal of advertising opportunities, but it is very much a poisoned chalice.

Below is the press release announcing the change:


Bridgestone to cease MotoGP™ tire supply after 2015 season

Tokyo (May 1, 2014) - Bridgestone Corporation (Bridgestone) today announced that it will withdraw from the role of Official Tire Supplier to MotoGP™ at the end of 2015 season.

Bridgestone has supported the world’s best riders with continuous technological innovation aimed at developing safer and better performing tires since it first entered the MotoGP™ championship in 2002. During this time, the development and supply of MotoGP™ tires have been a major boost to Bridgestone’s technical ability, and brought a number of benefits that have enhanced Bridgestone’s brand globally. Having achieved the objectives it set out for itself in MotoGP™, Bridgestone will cease tire supply to the series at the end of 2015. Bridgestone expresses its deepest gratitude to the riders, teams and all parties concerned, as well as motorsport fans around the world, for their support over the years. Bridgestone will spare no effort in fulfilling its role of Official Tire Supplier to MotoGP™ until the end of the 2015 season, and will ensure the same superior levels of product and support during the rest of its tenure.

As a company engaged in enhancing the mobility of society, Bridgestone will continuously take part in motorsports with its full passion and do its best to promote motorsport as part of its new portfolio of activities.

About Bridgestone Corporation:

Bridgestone Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, is the world’s largest tire and rubber company. In addition to tires for use in a wide variety of applications, it also manufactures a broad range of diversified products, which include industrial rubber and chemical products and sporting goods. Its products are sold in over 150 nations and territories around the world.

Bridgestone have announced that they will not continue as MotoGP tire supplier after the 2015 season. The Japanese tire maker will continue for the remainder of this season and throughout 2015 before pulling out of MotoGP.The move had been expected. Spanish magazine Motociclismo reported two weeks ago that Bridgestone was on the brink of withdrawing, which we covered at the time. There had been growing dissatisfaction between the two parties over the past couple of years, with Bridgestone not feeling they were getting the exposure they needed for the 20 million euros they spend on the series, while Dorna felt that the tires were not contributing to the spectacle of racing, and were built so conservatively in terms of tire durability that they were occasionally unsafe.At Austin, the first murmurings of the growing rift became audible. Paddock rumor held that Bridgestone, whose contract was due to expire at the end of 2014, had agreed a single year's extension to the end of 2015 to allow other tire suppliers time to develop their tires for MotoGP. With new technical regulations due to take effect from 2016 - all teams will use the spec ECU hardware and software from that point on - starting a new contract period from 2016 makes sense.

Comments

Good to have that 2015 extension

Bridgestone didn't have to agree to drink from the "poisoned chalice" for 2015. I guess they could have really tossed a wrench in the gears of MotoGP by stopping their supply this year. I'll bet Dorna is relieved that Bridgestone is not leaving at the end of this year, as no other supplier can be ready on such short lead time.

I'd love to know a little more about Pirelli's practice of supplying different specification tires to different teams in SBK. I don't know that that is common knowledge, or maybe an insiders scoop.

Total votes: 24

Why is single supplier cheaper for teams?

I'm surprised that a single tire supplier makes tires cheaper for the teams. How is it better exposure for a tire company to supply tires to teams that have to use them than it is for them to supply tires to teams that choose to use them?

It shocks me that, even in a tire war, tire manufacturers wouldn't be willing to supply tires to teams at no charge for the same reason they're willing to supply tires to the whole grid at no charge. I mean, what's better marketing for a tire company, "Michelin: The only tire trusted by Forward Racing" or, "Bridgestone: Because they have to"?

That being said, there's no perfect system here. I remember when Michelin used to dominate with their overnight specials. Then I remember when Dorna took the overnight specials away, and Michelin got caught with their pants down at several tracks (I was at Laguna-Seca in '07, I believe it was, when Michelin got downright embarrassed all weekend and teams were actually hand-siping the slicks to get heat into them). Then Bridgestone got the single tire supply contract, and they've suffered at least one or two embarrassing weekends per seasons, never mind the constant debate over whether their tires too narrowly support only a certain kind of bike.

My take is that when Bridgestone is replaced by another manufacturer as single supplier, we're going to be having the exact same tire gripes three or four times per season. In fact, considering the track records falling like crazy, the riders putting in fastest times late in races, or riders having no dropoff in speed over race distance, it's hard to argue that Bridgestone's provided a bad tire. Guessing wrong with weather/track condition a couple of times of year is going to happen with any manufacturer, so I don't see how this news really changes anything. Maybe we'll see another random shuffling in the "lucky bikes that the tires seem to like better" pecking order, but that seems to happen every season, anyway, even when the tire supplier doesn't change...

It's the system that needs to change, not the supplier. Perhaps the new tire supplier should be made to provide a wider range of tires so that bikes of different design would have a fair shot. You could make it cost effective by making teams choose their compounds/construction for the season during preseason testing. Teams would still have only two or three compounds to choose from at each track, and tires could be shipped out well ahead of time to keep the costs down, so the overall logistical cost to the supplier would be the same. The improvement, though, would be a greater variety of tires at the track to suit each individual bike better. No more, "No fair, these tires work for him but not me" crap. YOU chose your tire during testing, so deal with it.

Total votes: 31

Pirelli

The tires in SBK are pretty good, tire wear is an issue but doesn't usually decide a race. Exactly as it should be.

Total votes: 23

yeh but....

sure, but the forces imparted on a SBK tyre do not compare to the forces imparted on a MotoGP tyre.

Using a single tyre supplier for MotoGP is a no-win situation for the supplier. You can never please everyone, nor should you have to. What is wrong with Multiple suppliers, invited to supply tyres for teams at their own cost, in return for brand exposure ?

Total votes: 19

Same thing that's always been

Same thing that's always been wrong with it. You're assuming that the manufacturer will provide all it's teams with equal tires, history has proven that not to be the case.

Michelin didn't give all the riders/teams the overnight specials, only one or two at most, both in MGP & WSBK. How was that fair?

EDIT: This was the case even during the tire wars....

Anyway, I know people who root for riders, some people will root for a manufacturer. But no one I've ever met rooted for a specific brand of tires. So if a single supplier guarantees all teams get the same tire, so be it... even w/ the pitfalls we've seen to date.

Total votes: 24

"the forces imparted on a SBK

"the forces imparted on a SBK tyre do not compare to the forces imparted on a MotoGP tyre"

What?

They're both top-flight racing motorcycles, of course they compare. It's not like there's an order of magnitude of difference between the two.

I only took 30 seconds to check so this is by no means thorough, but the WSBK pole for Phillip Island this year was only 2.5% slower than the MotoGP pole time, and would have been 11th place on the grid.

I know that its a stretch making this direct of a comparison, but people like to make out the two series to be radically different, when realistically a WSBK is 95% or more of what a MotoGP machine is.

Total votes: 29

I also remember someone,

I also remember someone, possibly David, stating it is against the rules for riders to criticize the tires.

Total votes: 18

Maybe one day Dorna will

Maybe one day Dorna will learn to only change one major component at a time if they want smaller, less well-funded teams to be able to compete. Now we're changing the software and the tires in 2016. So not only do smaller teams have to now pay for new software techs to learn the more complex software to be introduced once the factories have to put their software into the pool, but now they also have to figure out how to use a completely new tire. All these concurrent changes favor the teams with big money; i.e. factory teams.

Total votes: 29

I remember a comment from the

I remember a comment from the head of pirelli motorcycle tires few years ago ridiculing 'stone motogp tires saying they were 10 kilos.

Total votes: 18

Thank you Bridgestone.

I just hope MotoGP avoids F1's pitfall, in which the new supplier in town not only made crap tyres but also considered itself to be responsible for reshuffling the pecking order year after year.

Total votes: 21

Tire vs Tarmac

@Tpnewsk

Please don't feel like I'm attacking your comments and by all means please be open minded. Go back and read Ben Spies comments about the difference between Motogp and WSBK. That only is clear that riding a Motogp is totally different then riding a WSBK bike. Technology is so far more adanvanced in Motogp, specifically where it counts on tires touching the tar mac.

Sure every rider has a different riding style but that alone is a tale which most riders know that you can't ride any bike the same way. Even tires alone can force a rider to change his riding style but that still does not lead to all bikes are the same.

Total votes: 18

Forces

I don't know the figures, but I would expect MGP braking to be significantly stronger than WSB due to the carbon brakes. The acceleration isn't probably that different, but it will have an effect, as will MGP's more extreme lean angles. Again , not a huge difference, but I don't think it will be case of Pirelli taking WSB tyres and dishing them out to the MGP boys with a few compound tweaks. New carcases will be needed and it sounds as if Michelin are already testing.

Rossi has just said that it was a big step from his Michelin to the BS tyres, and the whole issue of getting heat into the stiff, relatively hard, MGP tyres has been something that the WSB riders have not had to contend with (Toseland; Spies etc., etc. will testify to the adaptation required). The reason all those front end crashes occurred on out laps is because the riders have to push to the limit to get the load onto the tyres and get them up to temperature and keep them there. (Rossi's leg-breaking crash was caused by easing off and then asking for grip that wasn't there).

Bridgestone have been the only people making those sort of tyres and going to another supplier could mean lots of chassis issues for the teams whilst they figure it out. It will probably be complicated by a few of them (at least) asking for more performance 'just like the BS' because for all the problems it offered more performance. The changes made by the supplier (if they do) will then require more changes.....

Speed-wise it is probably a case of 'Be careful what you wish for'. Entertainment-wise it should be an interesting time. Racing-wise, along with the reduced/simplified electronics/TC, we are assured by Dorna it will get better. Let's hope we don't go through a CRT-alike phase.......

Total votes: 25

Carbon brakes are more

Carbon brakes are more consistent than steel ones but not stronger, it's a common misconception. The brakes on even a street superbike are super powerful - more than 1200hp from one test I saw. So no, no major difference there.

If the fastest superbikes are lapping faster than the back marking MotoGP bikes then that demonstrates the tyres are experiencing similar forces. The difference will be a few percent, not an order of magnitude.

It's actually just that those few percent that are harder to achieve due to diminishing returns. It's not greater forces at play, it's finding the absolutely optimal balance that is the difficulty.

Total votes: 21

I also remember reading that

I also remember reading that after testing the WSBK 1199 Nicky walked around to the front of the tire and gave it a squeeze just to confirm that it really was that soft. He obviously noticed a lot more flex.

Total votes: 16

I had the solution before and I'll repeat it

Multiple suppliers is fine... just make the teams test and choose in the off season, and be locked into that one brand for a season. This would help teams build relationships with certain brands and develop tires around their bikes. Catch of course being, through the season all teams would get the same tires through a lottery system, so no favoritism or "overnight specials". Factories would work with the tire makers to develop the tires around their bikes; satellite/Open teams would choose whatever worked best for them. Tire makers wouldn't have to bring 10 million tires to every race in the off chance that everyone went with their tire. Win win win situation all around.

I would be surprised if BS pulls out of MotoGP completely, or Dorna goes with another single tire supplier. The single tire system doesn't work, and a multiple supplier system can be easily modified to be most beneficial for everyone involved.

Total votes: 18

It's Capitalism, right?

So is it OK if the back half of the grid disappears because they can't afford annual tire bills approaching one million Euro per bike? I think you need to address a small item like that.

Total votes: 16

So the solution you thought

So the solution you thought worthy of repeating is: teams pick a tire manufacturer and are locked in with them for the year, they give feed back and get tires developed to their liking.

What's the difference between what you propose and just the old tire wars system?

Also, these two statements appear to directly contradict each other:

1. This would help teams build relationships with certain brands and develop tires around their bikes
2. Through the season all teams would get the same tires through a lottery system, so no favoritism...

Total votes: 21

What's in it for the tyre manufacturer?

As a sole supplier, a tyre company is paying for the rights to say "We ARE MotoGP". They get sole bragging rights, the ability to market, and the knowledge that on Sunday they will be first across the line.

A multi tyre series, whilst could be made to work, is of much less value to the tyre supplier - a "war" can drive up their R&D costs, they lose a lot of the marketing potential, and on Sunday they might lose. Even worse, they might lose every Sunday.

So, in a multi-tyre series, the tyre companies are less interested in taking part, and are taking a higher risk, whilst losing some commercial benefits - so, quite rightly, they charge for their tyres. I haven't personally checked the tyre costs, but if the costs above are correct, then for an independent team that could be the difference between being on the grid or not; at the very least it is the difference between having a data technician/engineer who can better exploit the open software and not having one.

In my opinion, a tyre war *could* bring the factories closer together, but I am certain it will spread the grid further apart. If the spirit of the new open rules is to make non-factory teams more competitive, then I believe a multi-tyre series would be a step in the opposite direction - it's not just about the tyres, but about running a team on limited resources.

Total votes: 17

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