Dunlop urges teams to be careful with tyres
Dunlop has urged the V8 Supercars teams to be wary of the limits of its control tyre when making final decisions on their race set-ups for today’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
As usual, tyres have been a major talking point during race week at Mount Panorama, with several teams reporting issues with their left-rear Dunlops during the lead-up sessions.
Tyres problems played a major role in the Dunlop Series title battle this weekend as erstwhile series leader Scott McLaughlin was forced to pit just halfway through the category’s opening race for a new left-rear.
Dunlop’s motorsport manager Kevin Fitzsimons told Speedcafe.com that the issues are not a new phenomenon and can be avoided with the right combination of set-up and driving style.
“The left-rear is predominately the one we’ve been having an issue with, which we have seen here since the track was last resurfaced,” he explained.
“The cars are going so fast now that they have virtually out-grown the development of the tyre, which is 12 years old.
“In a nut shell, the overlay, which goes above the steel belts below the tread surface, has been failing. It’s a bit like a ligament in your knee – when it goes you get a weak spot. Structurally it all looks intact but you just don’t have the strength there.
“When it flexes it gets hot and you get a blister which opens up the chord, which then drags along and tears the rubber because the chord is a lot stronger than what the rubber is.
“It’s a bit of a flow process and it’s the type of thing you can’t pick with the human eye.
“It’s something that the teams have to learn to live with, but taking the camber off structurally supports the tyre and stops it from being overloaded.
“That’s what we’ve been trying to hammer home to the teams – get your pressures up and get the camber off them. Hopefully, touch wood, we’ll get through the race unscathed.
“We’ve said to a few people that if it’s half a second slower from Griffins to Forrest Elbow over a 22 lap stint it cost you 11 seconds, as opposed to being faster across there but only getting to lap 14 or 18 and doing a 40 second pitstop.
“We don’t want to make it a conservation race, we want to have the cars racing hard and fast, but we also want them all to get to the end.”
Leading Holden squads the Holden Racing Team and TeamVodafone have been among those to report issues, although members of both teams told Speedcafe.com that the problems have occurred on their pre-marked tyres, rather than their new batches allocated for the weekend.
Jamie Whincup, whose #1 TeamVodafone Holden will start from the front-row of the grid today, says he’s expecting to see “some type of issues” occur in today’s race.
“I think it’s important to understand that it’s not Dunlop’s fault, we don’t want to blame the tyre manufacturer,” he said.
“We do put them under a lot of load and a lot of the issues that have happened were on practice tyres and not race tyres.
“It reared its head about three of four years ago and we thought it was going to be a huge issue in the race but then it all got eliminated with the new batch of tyres.
“I think we’ll just wait and see. I think there will be some types of issues but it’s mainly due to teams running too much camber and things like that. We’re sort of pushing the limits of the tyres outside what the manufacturer recommends.”
See below for Speedcafe.com’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 Race Guide.