MotoGP: Has Michelin Been Doing a Good Job?

MotoGP tire supplier Michelin has been famously plagued by poor performance from their tire compound last year – but have they managed to right their wrongs?

It would be incredibly easy to underestimate how important a tire compound is to the teams that regularly field entries in MotoGP. Easy, but foolish. As the instrument of the vehicle that quite literally dictates how effective the bike is in keeping balance and speed, issues with tire compounds are everyone’s least favorite problem to deal with. Probably due to the sensation that it’s out of their hands and in those of Michelin.

Michelin only stepped in last year to cover the vacant MotoGP tire supplier position that was left by former suppliers Bridgestone, and although Michelin’s efforts were highly appreciated, their compounds left a lot to be desired. Although reports of blistering, temperature mismanagement, and lack of grip have significantly fallen since the 2016 period, there have been still been a hefty amount of complaints levelled toward the compound with many major team riders citing improper lack of tire usage to be one of their biggest issues for 2017.

Most recently, Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo and Honda’s Dani Pedrosa attributed their poor performance at qualifying for the Assen circuit as an issue with the Michelin wet tire compound. Lorenzo was first up, claiming that the biggest knock to his confidence is a lack of grip – something that the Michelin wet tire has made itself a proponent of:

“Most of the time when I feel good in the wet, I’m competitive. When I don’t have grip, I don’t feel good.”

– Jorge Lorenzo

Batter-up Dani Pedrosa was next in line, taking a small, slightly self-deprecating jab at his light weight before turning his attention to the problematic tire compound:

“We worked on the bike on the tires, on my riding, but we couldn’t get the temperature of the rubber to exceed 30 degrees, which is something surprising when you consider we’re talking about wet tires.

Either the tires are too hard or I am too light. It was clear today I was not on an equal footing with the others. I don’t think anyone today would say my weight was an advantage.”

– Dani Pedrosa

It’s safe to say that Michelin’s efforts thus far have been greatly appreciated, but there’s much work ahead of them that remains to be done. They’ve made a clear attempt to step up to the plate and be the tire supplier that is required in the ultra-demanding and ultra-completive field of MotoGP – perhaps all they need is just a bit more time to perfect their temperature and grip solution. Though if this series has shown a proclivity for anything, it’s for stepping in to make corrections themselves should need be.