Dunlop closer to Supercars tyre solution



Dunlop is closer to solving the soft tyre weakness that marred last Saturday’s race at Phillip Island, according to the tyre maker’s Supercars Operations Manager Kevin Fitzsimons.

Tyres were the primary talking point across the Phillip Island weekend, starting when Craig Lowndes was sent flying into the wall by a failure during practice on Friday.

Fears that the soft compound control tyre would struggle across 250 kilometres of racing around the high-load Phillip Island circuit were then realised on Saturday, with 18 seperate failures to right-sided tyres, both front and rear.

After meetings between Dunlop and the Supercars commission on Saturday night and Sunday morning it was decided to raise the minimum pressure limit to 19psi for the second race, and reinforce the camber recommendations.

Following a significantly improved reliability rate for that second race, Fitzsimons says Dunlop now has a much clearer idea on what needs to happen before the soft compound tyre makes its next appearance at Bathurst later in the year.

The post-mortem will include assessing tyres in a ranger of different conditions, and could still include shipping tyres overseas to be run through an aviation industry-spec shearography machine.

The result might be a change to the materials used in the construction of the harder-spec control tyre.

“We’ve got a massive amount of data to go through,” Fitzsimons told Motorsport.com.

“We’ve got some really good samples of before, during, and after scenarios. We’ve got an engineer arriving from the factory so we’ll go through some stuff, and send tyres back there. And we’ve got some stuff for the shearography machine if we need it.

“We’ve got a much better idea [what needs doing]. It could mean we make some adjustments to the internal construction of the tyre – materials more so, the construction itself is fine – there may be something available that’s a little more heavy duty.”

Fitzsimons added that the weekend highlighted the strain Supercars tyres are put under, and was quick to point out that it wasn’t all bad news for Dunlop, with lap records falling even after the conservative set-up limits were put in place.

“As much as it was a horrible weekend there were some positives that came from it,” he said.

“It wasn’t ideal, it’s disappointing for the teams and everyone we let down on Saturday. You feel a bit responsible for that. But you learn, you move forward and don’t look backwards.

“These cars are heavy, fast, don’t have a lot of aero, and we have some of the best drivers in the world. You can never underestimate it; some of the laps times we saw over the weekend were phenomenal.

“Even on Sunday after the adjustments were made, we still knocked another three tenths off the lap record. There was a new lap record, the sky didn’t fall in, and it was all good.

“We’ll learn from it, you never stop learning.”