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MOTOGP NEWS 

Michelin baffled by Rossi's switch

Michelin's director of motorcycle racing Jean-Philippe Weber says he could not understand Valentino Rossi's decision to switch to Bridgestone tyres next season.

The Italian rider, critical of the French tyres during the season, will use the Japanese rubber in 2008 after struggling to match the performance of Casey Stoner in the Bridgestone-shod Ducati this year.

Rossi will be using Bridgestones in 2008, while Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo will continue with Michelin.

Weber says he has was baffled by Rossi's decision, and reckons the French tyre supplier made progress throughout the year.

"There were many changes in 2007, so many that it was almost a revolution," Weber said in an interview with Motosprint magazine. "At the beginning Ducati looked unmatchable in their performance, while Honda and Yamaha had problems.

"As far as we are concerned, I think we lost a lot in the wet races, while in the dry we had problems on two tracks: Laguna Seca and Brno. So, there were problems on the bike as well as with the tyres.

"In my opinion things changed at the end of the season, as far as we are concerned, but Valentino felt that the problem was just the tyre, not something else. Maybe this is a good analysis, or maybe it isn't.

"For me this decision of his is difficult to understand, but that's what he's decided. It could be a good or a bad choice, we'll see in a while. For sure there are things, also psychological ones, that influence greatly a rider's performance.

"But we look ahead, we must get a good performance with the riders we have."

Weber also admitted Michelin feared they would have to leave the sport after Dorna proposed the introduction of control tyres from 2008.

The proposal was later withdrawn.

"We had been afraid we had to go," he added. "There was a moment when a strange situation was emerging: Dorna seemed resolute to go for the single tyre supplier and this caused us a time of great confusion.

"At Michelin we enjoy competition and so the plurality of the players; a single tyre is not part of our philosophy. But there was a moment of great tension, when we started asking ourselves whether we should stay or leave. We were very worried that Ezpeleta really wanted the single tyre and we didn't know what to do.

"We were waiting for things to happen, to decide whether to participate in the bid or to just leave, but in the end Carmelo took the decision that in our opinion is the right one."

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