Moto2: Dunlop Spec Tire Q&A
Moto2 Race Tires
Mike Hailwood, four times 500cc World Champion on Dunlop in the 1960s was asked about his tires. His reply, after a short pause, "They’re round and black."
The basic processes to manufacture a tire – compound mixing, tread extrusion, tire building and curing – remain, but underneath the changes are profound.
The life of a Moto2 tire begins in the modeling room using advanced computer simulation software to predict properties such as spring rate and camber thrust to find the optimum profile and the effect of alternative composite materials – a program can often take up to a week to run.
Once this is finalized, the engineers construct 3D models using CAD software such as CATIA to visualize the intended tire.
Finite Element Analysis (FEA) will depict any high load areas, which, in turn, could generate heat, whether by design or fault. Only when all the computer work is finalized is metal for the tire moulds cut.
Tire building commences using specialized curved decks which allow fine layers of specialist materials such as POK, PEN, PBO and carbon fiber as well as regular materials like polyamide and rayon to form the carcass basis.
Within lies a true secret – the constructional components which make up the basis of NTEC. The fantastic stability of NTEC offers the ability to run at lower inflation pressures, resulting in improved sidegrip, durability, traction and feedback.
Multi-Tread tires (MT) have become the norm since Kenny Roberts first evaluated them on the banking at Daytona in the early 1980s.
Now all of Dunlop’s hypersport and supersport road tires use dual compounds (a harder centre compound for stability and durability at high speed, and softer shoulder compounds to maximize grip).
Race tires can go much further. Dunlop engineers have collated silicon laser scans of each major circuit thus enabling the engineers to differentiate and categorize the tracks depending on their severity.
The value, measured in mu, used in conjunction with historical data and telemetry ascertains the compound modulus required for a given application.
Motorsport’s latest manufacturing technology now enables the finest slither of a given compound to be applied to a designated part of the tread with pin-point accuracy – optimizing performance at all parts of the circuit Dunlop’s targets for the new generation Moto2 tires are three-fold.
Dunlop’s Jeremy Ferguson
Q: How did Moto2’s single-tire rule come about, and why did Dunlop step forward to win the contract?
JF: Originally Moto2 was going to be open-tire, but with restrictions on numbers and specifications to avoid all-out tire competition. As the discussions evolved it became clear the objectives couldn’t be reached.
At the same time, in the MotoGP class one-brand activity had been successful in performance and in everything else. In the light of this, Dorna decided to parallel that in Moto2.
As Dunlop has been the dominant and effectively sole supplier for the smaller classes for the last 20 years, and as we clearly wanted to stay involved in MotoGP activity, we said we would accept a one-brand contract with similar quantity and spec restrictions to that of the MotoGP class.
Q: Was the technical crossover from 250 to Moto2 seamless?
JF: Not really. We have all the circuit knowledge and surface knowledge and everything else that we got from MotoGP and 250, but these Moto2 bikes are heavier and have more horsepower.
The technical approach in terms of construction and compounds needed to move more towards Superbike and MotoGP.
Q: What about the crossover to road tires – do Moto2 bikes have more relevance than 250s?
JF: Yes, this is certainly the case. We can now see a huge crossover from all the NTEC race tires we have been using in Superbike and Supersport for several years to road tires.
The high performance road tires, for example the GP Racer D211, are now very, very close indeed to the Supersport race tires, in terms of profiles, compounds, construction … in all aspects.
Moto2 tires have obvious differences, which flow from being slicks, with no tread pattern, and with compounds that only have to do full race distance. But in fundamentals, road and race tires are very close now.
Q: What is the greatest benefit to Dunlop of the single tire rule?
JF: The ability to plan knowing what the time period is – in this case three years. This means you’re not rushing development week in and week out. You can do that within your own time frame, not one imposed by competitor activity. Moto2 is only one part of all our motor sport activity on two wheels and four wheels.
In MotoGP before the single tire rule, because of the element of competition it took up a huge amount of factory resources and time.
Also, if you have a one-brand activity for three years you can build a marketing strategy round it. Something that might disappear next year might not be so helpful.
Q: Have you thought beyond the first three years of Moto2?
JF: We haven’t started them yet! Nobody can predict what will happen three years from now. But I think that the trend is very clear … that more and more championships, international world championships have gone and will continue to go down this single-tire route.
The 125 class is not restricted, but the only one that is really open at world level is Endurance. There are still open national championship in Germany and Italy, but virtually everywhere else, from Australia to America to the UK, is now going down the single tire route.
Q: How about the 125 class – it’s open, but Dunlop is unopposed. Will you follow the same policy there of the same tires for everybody?
JF: We already do that. Every rider – whether he is a number one or the wild card at the bottom – gets the same allocation of specs and tire quantities at every race. It’s been like that for a couple of years, basically at the request of the teams.
Last year we had two front tire specs and three for the rear, but this year we expect to cut it down to two rear specs. It’s a control-tire situation, without the control. There’s not an actually limit on the maximum number they can use.