Dunlop excited by “faster” Supercars control tyre

The new-for-2017 soft compound Dunlop Supercars control tyre will be “faster” and is set to provide even better racing, according to the brand’s Australian motorsport boss Kevin Fitzsimons.

Dunlop excited by “faster” Supercars control tyre
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Dunlop truck in the Paddock
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Jason Bright and Andrew Jones, Brad Jones Racing Holden
Tim Slade and Ash Walsh, Brad Jones Racing Holden
Shane van Gisberge and Alexander Premat, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Race winners Garth Tander and Warren Luff, Holden Racing Team
Will Davison and Jonathon Webb, Tekno Autosports Holden
Shane van Gisberge and Alexander Premat, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Garth Tander and Warren Luff, Holden Racing Team

Dunlop recently won an extension of its control tyre deal a year early, the confirmation that a new soft compound control tyre will be introduced to the series coming at the same time.

Testing for a potential new compound has been ongoing this season, Dunlop now settled on what will be a stiffer, faster spec tyre.

According to Fitzsimons, the primary objective is to give drivers something they can lean on mid-corner, in a bid to further improve the racing and foster more overtaking.

“The tyre for next year is going to produce some really exciting racing,” he told Motorsport.com. “It’s a bit faster than what we’ve got now, and it’s going to give the drivers the confidence and the grip to really push for results for the duration of the race.

“It’s got more grip, and it’s a different shape tyre. The tyre we have now is quite round in its tread area to assist with running a spool diff, because it’s very, very difficult to get the car to turn and to give it mid-corner grip on the front. The fact that it’s got to be a steer tyre and a drive tyre, one end of the car is always going to suffer.

“So we’ve tried to improve that, and we’ve come up with a better overall package.

“It’s a different size, it’s much flatter across the tread area and very square in the sidewalls, very similar to what the wet weather tyre is. It just gives you a little bit more rubber on the road. If you put them side-by-side, it looks like it’s considerably wider, but if you run a tape measure over it it’s not really. It’s just the shape that gives it that appearance.

“But it’s definitely a stiffer tyre, which gives it that bit more mid-corner grip. Drivers will be able to dive up the inside of somebody under brakes and have the confidence to turn the thing in pretty hard and not understeer past the front.

“I think it’s going to produce some really exciting things next year. I’m really looking forward to it, it should be a good thing."

Longevity still a question mark

While saying that the trail compounds all “hit the nail on the head” in testing, one area that will be a small unknown heading into the new season is longevity.

A planned test at notorious tyre killer Phillip Island was rained out, meaning that the exactly where the tyre’s ‘cliff’ is remains untested.

But, with a rigorous testing plan in place, Fitzsimons says the teams will all learn together ahead of next season’s opener on the streets of Adelaide.

“Like anything it will have a cliff. It will be different at different circuits, and it’s something that we’ll have to learn with more testing,” he explained.

“It’s unfortunate that we went to Phillip Island to test it, got one lap in and then the heavens opened and it rained the entire day. We got one lap on the existing tyre, that was it.

“We we are going to have a bit of a learning curve. We’re going to built a tyre model for the teams, which will be done over the Christmas period, and then back-to-back it with the existing tyre, so they’ll be able to do simulation process with that.

“The main thing is that we need to hit the ground running with some test days in February and get some more information on longevity and bits and pieces. We’re all learning together, so nobody will have an out-and-out advantage.

“They’re all going to have the same opportunity with the same amount of tyres and the same amount of days. We’ll hit Clipsal all guns blazing at the beginning of March.”

New deal no formality

With the likes of Pirelli showing interest, albeit in a non-committal sense, in taking over the Supercars contract, Fitzsimons says Dunlop being re-signed was far from a given.

“You can never be certain in the business world until the contracts are signed,” he said. “This is a very, very sought after contract worldwide, from any tyre manufacturer. We had to be proactive with moving forward, and work with the technical team and the senior management at Supercars to come up with a package that assisted the teams.

“We know financially things are very, very tight in the sponsorship world – it always is in an Olympic year. So we had to come up with something to assist, which we were able to do.

“It’s definitely in our best interest to keep this control tyre in our backyard. You can never sit back and say ‘we’ve had this for 15 years, it’s just going to roll over’. Because as soon as you become complacent it becomes very dangerous.”

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