Dunlop tyre test an all-round success
This week’s official Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship tyre test, running on Wednesday and Thursday at Norfolk’s Snetterton circuit was a resounding success, with some 30 drivers attending and four running a full data-gathering programme for title sponsor and tyre partner Dunlop.
Teams and drivers alike relished the opportunity, made possible by Dunlop which organised the test, for a more relaxed atmosphere over two days, bestowing upon them a unique opportunity to tinker with the car outside of the time pressures of a race weekend.
Tom Ingram, the quickest driver of the test outright echoed the thoughts of many a driver in the paddock who seized the chance to find what does and doesn’t work in terms of setup.
“We’ve just been playing around with different setups really,” said Ingram. “On the Friday or Saturday of a race meeting you don’t get a lot of time to tinker with the car and setups, the geometry and differentials. It’s been nice to have a morning where you can come up with some ideas.”
Dunlop ran a programme of validation and data collection work given the changing construction of its tyres for next season, where it is due to run both taller and wider rubber. The change in BTCC suspension componentry for this campaign is also something that the manufacturer is aiming to further its understanding of.
Dunlop Motorsport’s Mickey Butler was in attendance for the duration and was delighted with the a full pit lane, the work completed and the feedback on 2017’s tyres.
“We had to validate the direction we need to go in for 2017,” said Butler. “Obviously there have been quite a few key changes this year to the suspension and various other components so we’re still trying to understand what that is doing to the current tyre.
“All we’ve done this year as of now is we’ve looked at the construction of the tyre and we’ve left the compounds themselves alone. Because of everything that is happening in going to a taller and wider tyre, it’s important first and foremost to understand what effect that is going to have.
“We spent a lot of time trying to understand things on day one with some mixed results but on day two, things stabilised and the direction we thought it would go in has come to pass, which is good. Most of the testing we did on the Tuesday were longer runs. We switched to Gordon Shedden’s car for that and that’s about it. The rest of the work was done on the Wednesday.
“Three out of the four test drivers have given us positive feedback about the tyres so it looks as if we’ve got a good direction for 2017. Out of the drivers we had testing, they picked the 2017 set straight away.
“I’ve got to find a balance between the front-wheel drive cars and the rear-wheel drive cars and go through the data and think about it. I’m definitely happy with the direction.
“There was a turnout of thirty cars over the test, which was just fantastic, with Matt Neal, Colin Turkington, Sam Tordoff and Mat Jackson running the 2017 construction at various points for a chassis mix and a selection of both front and rear-wheel drive machines.”