Prime versus Option for Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship
When it comes to selecting the best option tyre for the ten rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, Dunlop engineers are faced with several considerations; track and ambient temperatures, the length of the races, the types of corners, heavy braking and traction, and the track surface.
The temperature variance across the circuits last year, from potentially 3 to 52 degrees, is also a deciding factor, however the wide operating window of the Dunlop Sport Maxx tyres allow temperatures of 60-120 degrees.
Dunlop has a huge database of knowledge spanning 60 years in saloon cars from which to decide which option tyre to allocate at each of the ten rounds. The subsequent choices facing the drivers and teams between those option tyres have the ability to affect race outcomes. For 2018 the choices remain largely similar to last year, with the exception of the Jubilee Celebration weekend at Snetterton which will be confirmed after the mid-season test.
In response to requests from the fans, Dunlop’s ‘BluResponse Wet’ tyre will for 2018 run with a blue sidewall marking to easily identify in conditions where it’s not necessarily obvious when a driver is running dry or wet tyres. This will be particularly useful for television viewers watching ITV’s qualifying live stream on Saturday afternoons.
Tyre Allocation at a glance
|Dry tyre allocation||To be used in two races||To be used in one race|
|Brands Hatch Indy||Sport Maxx Prime||Sport Maxx Option Soft|
|Donington||Sport Maxx Prime||Sport Maxx Option Hard|
|Thruxton||Sport Maxx Option Hard to be used in all races|
|Oulton Park||Sport Maxx Prime||Sport Maxx Option Soft|
|Croft||Sport Maxx Prime||Sport Maxx Option Hard|
|Snetterton||To be confirmed||To be confirmed|
|Rockingham||Sport Maxx Prime||Sport Maxx Option Hard|
|Knockhill||Sport Maxx Prime||Sport Maxx Option Soft|
|Silverstone||Sport Maxx Prime||Sport Maxx Option Hard|
|Brands Hatch||Sport Maxx Prime||Sport Maxx Option Soft|
How Dunlop decides which option BTCC Sport Maxx tyre to use
- For the opening round at Brands Hatch, Dunlop’s softer tyre 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 tyres, as it has a couple of long straights, it’s the track surface that suits the hard tyre 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 tyres to cool down. The new specification hard tyre 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 tyre, highly regarded for stability and feel under braking, is the best option tyre.
- 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 tyre give consistency.
- Rockingham is also challenging on tyres, where the high-speed banking and turn one, the fastest corner on the calendar, are major considerations to Dunlop choosing the harder option tyre.
- The short, sharp circuit Knockhill circuit with its undulations and often cooler weather is well suited to the Dunlop soft option tyre 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 tyres for the penultimate round. The stretch from Woodcote through Copse is extremely fast, and here the hard option tyre 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 tyre.