Will New Tire Rules in MotoGP Make 2018 Less Unpredictable?

John Burns
by John Burns

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.

John Burns
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  • Patriot159 Patriot159 on Feb 01, 2018

    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 Mad4TheCrest on Feb 02, 2018

    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.