Last year, Maverick Viñales won three of the first five MotoGPs and finished second in the 6th. Beginning with the seventh round, though, the wheels almost literally came off for the wonderboy in his first season as Rossi’s teammate on the MoviStar Yamaha. Why? Michelin changed its tire construction, and Viñales never found his happy place for the rest of the season.

Casey Stoner blamed a change in the construction of his Bridgestone tires halfway through his 2012 season aboard the Repsol Honda for a sudden change in his fortunes that year. To most of us, tires may just be round and black; to those guys, tires are fine musical instruments that have to be in tune with the rest of the motorcycle.

Rule changes for 2018 are designed to keep a tire change from reshaping  the season, as it’s done in two of the last four seasons. This year, Michelin will not be allowed to change its tires other than minor compound changes to deal with different layouts and surfaces. The new tire rule goes along with engine and electronics rules already in place, generally enacted to keep factory teams happy and costs down. Is that good for us spectators too?

Our friend Mat Oxley explores, in this week’s Sepang report over at MotorSport.com.