Pandemic Fallout: Piero Taramasso Explains How MotoGP Bike Development Delayed Introduction Of New Front Tire To 2024

The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic threw a spanner into the works for MotoGP in all sorts of ways. In response to the pandemic, the MSMA decided on an engine and aerodynamics freeze for 2020 and 2021, to limit costs in a time of uncertainty.

That went a long way to restraining costs, but as the world adapted to the pandemic, and it became clear that a global economic crisis had been averted, development budgets started to rise again. Even more so when people started using the money that travel restrictions prevented them from spending on vacations to buy new motorcycles and accessories.

With engine development frozen, MotoGP engineers turned their minds to finding advantages in other areas. Factories went all in on the holeshot devices which had made their debut at the end of 2018 and through 2019, transforming them from devices used only at the start to become adjustable ride-height devices, used throughout the race to improve acceleration and corner exit. Faster speeds on corner exit meant higher speeds on the straight, and as a result, higher braking forces.

That has had a knock-on effect on Michelin's development program as well. Since 2019, Michelin has been working on a new front tire, with more support, to improve corner entry and braking stability. The tire had been tested in 2019, with more tests scheduled in 2020 to finalize development ahead of an introduction in 2021. But with the 2020 calendar and test schedule completely rewritten, that idea had to be abandoned.

With 2022 promising to be something of a return to normality (pandemic and war permitting), this could have been the season where work on the front tire resumed. But the development of MotoGP bikes in the past two season has forced a rethink, because the design parameters have moved on.

"We are still working on the front," Michelin boss Piero Taramasso told me when I spoke to him at the Sepang MotoGP test. "We will make some adjustments, and the tests will be done in 2023, to be introduced for 2024." The added aerodynamics and braking forces had changed the demands placed on the front tire. "Basically it's delayed, because we are working to improve the temperature and the pressure control. Now when you have the slipstream, the tendency of the front tire is to overheat. So we are working on that, to try to better control that point."

The behavior of the MotoGP bikes had changed a lot over the two years of the pandemic, Taramasso said. "We realized in the past two seasons, that bikes are changing, they are putting more and more weight on the front, with the winglets, and riders are braking very very hard. So the load is changing, so we had to also change the development to adapt to that." With the front tire being subjected to higher loads, the front would have to offer even more support.

The stronger front had originally been expected to help both the Hondas and KTMs, as the bikes which demanded the most from the front under braking. But with the redesign of the RC213V to move the weight distribution more rearward, the Honda is now less dependent on the front tire for its lap time. The bike has more rear grip, and so more drive out of corners, and the ability to use the rear tire to assist in braking.

Development of the front tire may be delayed until 2024, but Michelin will be continuing development of a new rear tire ahead of the 2023 season. "We have some new things, a rear casing," Taramasso told me at Sepang.

The MotoGP riders had already tested the tire in 2021, and had brought it to Sepang for further testing. "This rear casing we already tested last year in Barcelona, in Misano, in Jerez. It's a new solution to improve the warm up and to improve the edge grip. So this solution, if it works, we will test it again this season. It may be introduced next year, for 2023."

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True. I suppose every thing in life is a moving target, constantly changing. Seems like the moving part is moving faster these days. Or maybe that's the typical perception of older folks, like yo.

a new tyre to the game. Shouldn’t the bikes be designed to use the tyres they have or develop to improve grip AND durability? I would rather see them using one tyre type over a weekend, and two or three tyres seems plenty. I admit my tyres were pretty well used after 4 or 5 track days and wear rates for decent riders would be much higher (inverse square law etc) but aren’t the current allocations too generous? I am not suggesting doing away with soft/ med/ hards to suit bike or rider preferences but the piles of tyres currently used is mind boggling.

Simpler tyre choices and steel brakes please.

It would also be good to hear how road tyres benefit from MGP tech. Prototypes were once exotic road machines but MGP is getting more like F1 were the spin off is hard to see and it’s all about brand image, not motorcycling.
I agree with Rossi et al that we are losing overtaking and the essence of this sport. I am drifting back to WSBK and BSB for battles over places and that’s a shame as I love an exotic bike ( or car) as much as anyone.

Respectfully i disagree on all fronts.

A reasonable selection of tyres is imperative to allow different rider/machine pairings to excell and pursue different optimisation strategies. The bridgestone era is the closest to what you are suggesting and that provoked marginal differences in lap time optimisation that could be maintained for race distance. What we have now is vastly superior as an entertainment product because there are many more ways to skin a cat.

Why does the company who used to be able to toddle off on a Saturday evening and come back next day with custom made tyres for a select few top tier riders now take four bloody years to make a new tyre?  So long that the bikes have evolved so much that it's no longer relevant.  I get that the 'custom' tyres made 15yrs back were probably just specific combinations of the existing options of carcass, compound and whatever else, but still something about all this seems very weird.

I think when they introduce a new tyre there are impacts on the grid. This riders improves, that rider loses, this bike wins, that bikes loses. So teams who are going well might not want a new tyre and teams which are struggling might want a new tyre. All of this falls onto Michelin and via the media they become the idiots. I don't think they have an issue with design, testing or production of a new tyre. They have a problem minimising the risk of being the blame for the world's woes. Dammed if they do and dammed if they don't.

I can't imagine that Michelin's knowledge and ability to develop the tyres has stopped. For a couple of years Michellin copped a lot of bad press with the riders saying or implying that the Michelins weren't as good as the Bridgestones. The reality is that they were meant to be different to mix things up, and the manufacture was being blamed for it.On the flip side, the racing is so close now why would they want to change the tyres? 

Super interesting moment in the Daytona endurance race of the Twins Cup Friday. Aprilia RS660's, Yam "R"7's, Suzuki SV650. No more Kawi Ninja 650s apparently, and none of those Nortons in the USA. Used to be a fun cheap competitive class to run in. Anyhoo, young bold chance taker rips an optimistic aggressive line high speed on the banking that sends him riding up ONTO the wall, then ricochets off of two bikes. Holds it together to podium. Nuts!

(Enjoyed Paasche winning the 200 on his new Triumph 765R). Here's the "wall of doom" ride.

WOW...what did I just see? The solution to too much runoff - impossible to run off. Holy moly, I saw a buddy change lanes in front of me on a 70s KZ1000LTD when he didn't realize there was a curb and he jumped it sorta like Mazz after hitting the wall there - over, up, then sideways and down. I had to pull over because I was laughing so hard. Totally invulnerable in my 20s. Also like Mazz here.

This is a one-off race with similar rules to the new WSBK lightweight class. He's doing superbikes, so will be in the rest of the events.

That was somewhat wild, thanks for the clip 'shrink.

I tried it once, didn't work for me. Concrete wall won. Best bruises I have ever had! Colourful reminder for weeks after.

Didn't quite work out for Ducati at Daytona. Slipstreaming and tire changes that's racing. "Baggers" that is something else!

Tires, bikes & performance. They all change, it's happening all the time. The bikes will be different at Mandalika, to what they were two weeks ago. Teams figure out how to get the best out of the tires they have. Or try to. 

It is all compromise, if a racer gets more grip that gets used, then eventually the rubber doesn't last the distance. Then the rider has to adapt to save the tire(s). The bikes are are adjusted to suit the tire & conditions. Racers will ride what they have on the start line. Then talk about it later. 

Grazie  Piero Taramasso thanks for the insights. Also thanks for the insights D.E.

Crikey. Thirty-one degree banking. That's like bouncing off a third of the way up a sky dome and falling into a sea of racing motorcyclist at full tilt. I know what these eyes saw. Crisis averted somehow. It wasn't Mazziotto's day to skittle the field.

Guy Rodio and Anthony Mazziotto, couple of teenagers from New Jersey, racing for Rodio/Warhorse Racing. Sure looked like a rodeo move. 

Thanks for the link, Motoshrink. The announcer's comment was laughable. Only because everyone escaped without serious injury.


From the wayback machine:

Sorry it won't accept my image of KR on the banking, under the bubble, looks like the suspension is fully compressed.

From  friend who raced Daytona in the 250 class, paraphrasing, "You rode the banking in a full tuck, looking up to see where you were going..."

Taken through a hole in the wall at the top of T-4 in 1983, I think they closed it off a while after that. Pic won't load, though.


Here is your full 1983 Daytona 200 race video folks...

I did one of those moves in a potentially horrible moment on the street. Over cooked a big corner threading cars. Long right hander that wraps around forever HWY I-84 west approaching Portland Oregon, off the lane there was gravel left from winter ice treatment. Lost the front, got it back. The center divide was going to be hit. I remember the slowed moment and a thought about the shape of the cement barrier as rideable/bounce off-able if I was at lean. Stuck the bike over, losing the rear a bit, bounced off the thing and kept riding. New to me CBR600 with shit old touring tires it came with. Girlfriend's new first bike. She was on the back, "seeing what the bike could really do."

One of those "getting a message" things. Holy smokes.

Mandalika! Are you folks hungry for it too?

Yes! Always makes for a great Monday knowing a race is coming the next Sunday.

Hopefully the track can withstand the forces of those motogp behemoths giving it the what for.

Hey! Had one of those "message moments" too (like many on this forum, most likely). Was riding two up with the girlfriend to a wedding at the top of Red Mountain Pass. Had the old ZX-10 dialed up while passing a line of cars and decided to take the semi in the lead also through a long sweeping left. Memory of the wasted rear tire flitted through the mind while glancing at the speedo (triple digits). Then there was a weird feeling in the belly and strange sensation in the head. The enthusiasm disappeared and was replaced with a quietude. Like the celebration of life type. Humbleness. Slowed down for the right hairpin before starting the climb. The very next left, the rear was thumping around. Pulled off to check it out. The rear tire looked pregnant enough to burst. The story goes on, but you get the idea. It was a close friend that suggested the message business.