COMPETITION in next year's expanded GT Production Series for near-standard passenger cars is set to reach new levels with all entrants racing on identical, road-legal Dunlop tyres.
GT Production organiser PROCAR Australia Pty Ltd announced today it had signed a three-year contract with Dunlop Motorsport to supply and service "control" tyres.
The national series, part of the Australian GT Production Car Championship, will expand next season from three classes to four encompassing a wide variety of road-going sedans and coupes.
Starting from round one in Adelaide on 15-17 March, all cars will use the Japanese-made Dunlop D01J, a treaded competition tyre suitable for dry or wet tracks.
PROCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Ross Palmer says the introduction of a control tyre will benefit fans and competitors.
"A control tyre will boost competition by eliminating what often is a key variable between teams, the ability to use different brands and types of tyre. It will put more emphasis on driver skill, bringing the cars closer together on the track and improving the spectacle for fans," he said.
"Also, getting rid of specialised dry slick and wet treaded tyres will meet our aim of bringing GT Production closer to the concept of racing in near-standard production trim."
Competitors would save money and enjoy a guaranteed supply throughout the eight-round season, he added.
The contract was finalised after the tyres were tested by two current GT Production drivers, John McIlroy (Ford Falcon XR8) and Martin Doxey (Holden Vectra 2.2), at Victoria's Winton circuit.
McIlroy, who competes in the V8 Touring class, reported the Dunlop D01J performed very well with times only around 2.5 seconds slower than slicks.
"Naturally, the treaded control tyre isn't as fast in the dry as a pure slick, but durability seems to be just as good and the times will improve as the drivers get used to them and work out suitable suspension set-ups.
"It's going to benefit everyone, particularly the teams with smaller budgets, because we won't have to buy different wet tyres that hardly get used or the extra wheels to mount them on," McIlroy said.