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.

  • Old MOron

    Aw shucks, I liked things the way they were last year, changing.
    Seems like the challenge wasn’t so much to develop a consistent base package, but to adapt to new situations. That gave us unpredictable results and an exciting season.

    Mat kind of makes it sound like Michelin’s mid-season tire change was a bad thing. He neglects to mention that 20 of the 23 riders voted in favor of the change.

    Anyway, I don’t blame the competitors for wanting consistency. Much less stressful.

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    • spiff

      Yeah, Yamaha (Vinales) did what they could with the tire, then it was abandoned. At that point Yamaha should have went back a couple of steps, and began again (hindsight). I agree in keeping the tires for the whole season. You get what you get, just like the engines.

  • john phyyt

    Seems KTM is down1.5 second again . Closed to under a second at end of last year.

    Lorenzo is on fire. Seems ducs can be made to corner after all. . Race distance may be an entirely different matter. Roll on .. Has Jack Miller spoken to Casey and been told how to tame these red things.
    Wonder how long before Crutchlow pleads with Gigi for one.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      KTM has a brand new bike. Still fine tuning it. Last year’s bike had already been fine tuned.

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    • Old MOron

      Crutchlow had a pretty good test on the “difficult to ride” Honda. Don’t think he’ll be darkening Gigi’s door just yet.

      The JackAss was impressive. I hope he picks up where Danillo left off on that GP17.

    • spiff

      Pol is the one who was putting in good numbers for KTM. He had a fast crash, and decided to sit the last day out.

  • Patriot159

    Any time there are substantial changes (esp. tires) it seems that certain teams/bike/rides adapt better and quicker than others. Remember the days when Michelin would make a tire for Rossi the night before the race and air mail it to the track?

  • Mad4TheCrest

    Back when tire makers competed against each other in GPs change was constant and involved true technological battles. In the control tire reality of today, those changes mentioned in the article are made based on rider/team feedback with the nod going to the majority decision, no matter what individual rider/team may get inconvenienced. This seems fair until you realize this also penalizes the riders/teams that got the setup just right for the season-starting tire options. I think this no major change rule will be good. Even though some teams will get it better at the start, consistency will allow others to catch up. Rather than watching top riders suddenly struggle, hopefully we will see the whole field getting closer as every team warms to the tires.