Dunlop has concluded a tire test program at Portugal’s Autodromo Internacional Algarve and plans to introduce new tires at the German VLN Endurance Championship this year.
The tire company has used Portugal’s Autodromo Internacional Algarve to test new ideas and concepts for the 2019 season because in the winter the coastal circuit has a similar climate to the Nürburgring in the spring; and because the circuit has contours, inclines, crests and cambers similar to the German circuit.
Over three days, 11 different cars took part in the test. For GT3 cars, which compete in the top SP9 category of VLN, Dunlop tested new specifications on the latest Audi R8 LMS, BMW M6 and Mercedes-AMG GT. In 2018, Dunlop tires were used to win two races, both with Porsche 911 GT3 R, and one of the goals was to replicate this high level of performance across a range of different car models.
The VLN regulations allow a limited number of front- and rear-tire specifications per car type each season, giving tire manufacturers ample scope to innovate and introduce new technologies. It is this technical freedom that drives Dunlop to develop, according to Alexander Kühn, Dunlop Tyre’s product manager, motorsport Europe: “We have made a step forward during this test and validated new specifications that we expect to use in the early part of the season. Our objective has been to widen the operating window of the tire range. The Nürburgring has notoriously fickle weather and having a range that can cater for single-figure temperatures or a searingly hot track is important. In that respect, I’m confident that we have made a step forward.”
The GT4 category features cars that are closer to production specification such as the BMW M4, Porsche Cayman and Aston Martin Vantage. After two years of running the class as a control tire formula, the VLN organizer has opened the class to all tire manufacturers.
Kühn said, “Dunlop has a lot of experience in GT4 and Touring Car racing and we are adapting proven technology from other categories to our VLN tire range.”
Dunlop has been chosen to equip the VLN’s closely fought ‘TCR’ Touring Car classes with its latest generation of race tires and the Algarve test was used to assess specifications for this category. In TCR, a standard 265/660R18 specification will be used on a wide range of cars, including the Audi RS3 LMS, Hyundai i30 N, Opel Astra, Seat Cupra and Volkswagen Golf GTI.
Also present at the test was the Revolution Sports Prototype, which completed over 1,000km (620 miles) of testing, ahead of its debut in the one-marque UK Revolution Trophy this year. Dunlop has been appointed as sole tire supplier and finalized the tire specification for the 440bhp/metric ton lightweight racer at the test.
The company will return to the Autodromo Algarve in late March to test latest tire specifications for the European Le Mans Series.