Following the announcement that the Dunlop BluResponse Wet tire will run with a blue sidewall marking during the 2018 MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), the company has revealed the details behind the race tire selection process
Engineers consider variables including: track and ambient temperatures; race length; the types of corners; heavy braking and traction; and the track surface when deciding on a tire strategy for each of the 10 rounds of the BTCC.
The temperature variances found across the different circuits that make up the UK championship, from potentially 3°C to 52°C, are a deciding factor. However, the wide operating window of the Dunlop Sport Maxx allows tire temperatures of 60-120°C.
Ahead of the season opener, Dunlop has revealed a little of the thinking that goes into the tire selection process.
For the opening round at Brands Hatch, Dunlop’s softer tire has a wide operating range that suits the cooler conditions usually seen at the season opener.
On the face of it Donington doesn’t appear to be a circuit that would suit the harder tires, as it has a couple of long straights, it’s the track surface that suits the hard tire better.
Thruxton has always been one of the most challenging circuits as a result of the combination of its abrasive surface and kerbs and the fact that the circuit is constantly turning. There are no straights to allow the tires to cool down. The new specification hard tire introduced last season performed well over the race distance for all cars and will be used again in 2018.
At Oulton Park the premium is very much on braking. Where you’ve got heavy braking, it’s usually followed by the need for traction particularly on the uphill exit of the hairpin and Knickerbrook, where the soft tire, highly regarded for stability and feel under braking, is the best option tire.
Croft is another track that’s difficult to decide on the best option, as both the soft and hard options work well. The section from Tower Bend to the Jim Clark Esses requires very fast directional changes, and this is where the durability of the hard tire give consistency.
Rockingham is also challenging on tires, where the high-speed banking and turn one – the fastest corner on the calendar – are major considerations to Dunlop choosing the harder option tire.
The short, sharp circuit Knockhill circuit with its undulations and often cooler weather is well suited to the Dunlop soft option tire which works well for the traction and acceleration required at the section out of the hairpin up to the pit lane entry.
Silverstone is being completely resurfaced ahead of the BTCC race, and Dunlop doesn’t believe that will have any great effect on the tires for the penultimate round. The stretch from Woodcote through Copse is extremely fast, and here the hard option tire offers the best durability.
Brands Hatch again hosts the final round, but this time we’re on the GP circuit. Like the season opener, the final race is often held in cooler temperatures and once again Dunlop engineers know the track suits the soft option tire.