Did tire choice impact the outcome of Sunday’s season-ending MotoGP showdown between series point leader Marc Marquez and title contender Andrea Dovizioso? To cope with the demands placed on the left sides of the tires by the predominantly counterclockwise Circuit Ricardo Tormo, all three Michelin rear slick options were asymmetrical while the soft and hard fronts likewise employed a harder left shoulder.

“This is one of three circuits where we bring asymmetric front tires with a lot of difference between right and left,” Michelin’s Nicolas Goubert said. “One of them is not asymmetric and the riders have been using it only in the afternoon when the temperature is high enough.” At this time of year, track temperature at the 14-turn, 2.49-mile Spanish circuit can vary from morning to afternoon by as much as 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

Earlier in the weekend, MotoGP riders swung between the soft and medium rears. “Most of them found out Friday that the soft could more or less do race distance,” Goubert said. “Sometimes you have an advantage with stronger rubber, especially in long corners like you have here because you have more stability.” For the race, Goubert expected most riders would lean toward the soft rear, with a smaller number choosing the medium. And that's exactly what happened.

Valencia, MotoGP, Michelin
MotoGP Round 18 Circuit Ricardo Tormo Michelin race-tire selection sheetCourtesy of Michelin

This is Goubert’s final MotoGP race for Michelin. After 28 years with the French tire manufacturer, he has accepted a new position with MotoGP rights-holder Dorna as the executive director of the forthcoming electric motorcycle roadracing championship, the FIM Moto-e World Cup. Goubert said he is leaving Michelin on good terms, having put in place a strong team of experienced people.

“I guess I needed a change,” he admitted. “I’ve always been passionate about motorcycle racing, and it was great to tackle the challenge of coming back to MotoGP. From now on, I would say the work is going to be a little bit different because we have an acceptable level. There is no competition from other tire makers, which is something I miss. I had the opportunity to stay in the racing world but in a completely different role.”