Tuesday, November 18, 2008

One tyre to rule them all

The decision to implement a single tyre rule in MotoGP didn't go so well with some fans and that includes me.

World Superbike (WSBK) and MotoGP, the two most prestigious two wheel racing series, differs when it comes to the availability of the machines raced. In WSBK, a minimum number of it have to be made available to the public for purchase. In MotoGP, it is the direct opposite. It must be a prototype hence not for sale while it is still being raced. This is the reason as to why both series can have the own fans and remain profitable without clashing with each other's interest.

WSBK implemented the one tyre rule a few years ago. This is to bring about a fairer competition among the teams as tyres are one of if not the most important factor for winning a race. By making it standard, no team will get preferential treatment from the tyre company by getting the best tyre they can provide.

I understand the reasoning but it is hard for me to agree with solution to counter the problem. We might as well race a single model of bike in that case.

By having many manufacturers, it brings about competition within them to come out with the best they can. By having only one of them, it's creating a monopoly and we know what damage that can cause.

WSBK appointed Pirelli as the supplier. It worked, surprisingly. Closer race and more competitive teams as a result. Somehow it became acceptable to me but only because I see the bikes matter more than the tyres. Fans watched WSBK to see which bike they might buy in the future. They don't come to see the tyres.

Now MotoGP wants to follow suit but this time I seriously believe they have made the wrong decision.

How do we get good tyres for our own personal use? It is the result of tests carried out by the manufacturer. Competitions are one of the most effective avenues for advancement in technology for any product, including tyres. By using the most punishing extreme conditions the tyres can go through, manufacturers can use the data collected to improve the knowledge that they have and then use them to come out with better products. This is the benefit, apart from exposure, that is vital to their total revenue.

With one of their avenues for exposure taken away, their revenue may go down as a result and that may cause them to totally abandon their pursuit of technological advancement, ending in a halt to their non profitable products range. It may sound extreme but Michelin and Dunlop may stop making tyres for sports bikes when Bridgestone becomes the official tyre supplier to MotoGP. With their names no longer associated with this prestigious series, it is possible.

To prove my point, have you heard of Michelin? I bet 99% would say yes. No surprise right?

How about Nan Kang? No? I am not surprised either.

So what is the alternative solution?

One of the main reason why tyres can cause huge difference in performance between teams is because some teams cannot afford to purchase those supplied to the main factory teams who has money in the world to buy almost anything.

To counter that, why not set a limit on the cost of a tyre? I am sure they can come out with a figure that will be affordable to all teams. This way, every team can get the same tyre factory teams are getting regardless from which manufacturer. Tyre companies do not take part in the series to make money from sales of tyres to the racing teams. They make money from ads; so limiting how much they can sell their tyres to teams will not affect them.

Even if some tyres are specifically made for a particular bike, it is way better for other bikes to use them rather than getting a 2nd rate ones which no one wants.

MotoGP is about the best of the best. It should apply to tyres too and not just from Bridgestone.

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