MotoAmerica Dunlop Test

MotoAmerica: Dunlop Test Complete at Thunderhill Raceway Josh Hayes
Yamaha’s Josh Hayesx

Dunlop had to compress its MotoAmerica testing schedule at three-mile Thunderhill Raceway Park in Northern California December 9-10. Tire testing was schedule for both days, but the 11 MotoAmerica riders participating had their time cut short due to heavy rain on Wednesday. Prevailing conditions allowed for a full day of cold but dry testing on Thursday.

Present were were Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Cameron Beaubier and Josh Hayes; Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden and Jake Lewis; Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha’s JD Beach and Garrett Gerloff; Meen Motorsports’ Josh Herrin and Joe Roberts; Westby Yamalube Racing’s Josh Day; Dunlop’s Benny Solis; and Tuned Racing’s Bryce Prince.

Hosted by Dunlop, the tire manufacturer brought over 400 tires to the tests for both Superbike/Superstock 1000 and Supersport racers taking part. In the lineup were 12 different spec fronts and 14 different spec rear tires.

“Overall we didn’t get everything we wanted done,” Dunlop’s Tony Romo said. Romo remains optimistic when he added – “But we found a better direction on the front (tire) and some rear compounds. We didn’t get to the Qs (qualifying tires), but we will do that the next time here in January.”

MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier was on one of four MotoAmerica-spec Superbikes at the test and despite the conditions, considered this round of testing to be a success.

“It was a bummer that we missed the first day just because we had a lot of stuff to go through on our side and on Dunlop’s side,” Beaubier said. “But we got through quite a bit today. We just went out for a lot of short stints and we didn’t really do any more than string five or six laps together. We were trying new tires, a few things on our side. It’s pretty cool that Dunlop is making a big push to elevate their tire game. I’m looking forward to what’s to come. We didn’t get to try some of the softer tires that they brought, which is kind of a bummer, but we got to try a couple of updated versions of the tire we’ve been racing on and so far it’s going pretty good.”

Chilly temperatures and a staggering number of tires to run through meant that posting fast lap times was not the main concern, though we are sure to see a definite positive change when the teams reconvene at Thunderhill in January 2016.

“We weren’t really going for great times and we didn’t really put up any great ones,” Beaubier said. “We’re still probably a second and a half off what I did here last year even with how much better the bike has gotten now. We weren’t’ really going for lap time. With the rain and the cold track tempers it really wasn’t a great day to go wring your neck out for a great time. But we got some good track time in and it was good. We knocked off some of the dust since I hadn’t ridden since New Jersey. I’m looking forward to getting out here next month.”

Garrett Gerloff, who won two races en route to finishing third in the 2015 MotoAmerica Supersport Championship, was hard at work on a chilly Thursday going through Supersport-spec slicks for Dunlop, but by mid-afternoon he’d made his way through the majority of the stack and had found an all-important front tire that he liked. He was one of four Supersport riders on the track.

One of four Supersport riders on deck, Garret Gerloff, who nabbed two victories while en route to finishing third in the 2015 MotoAmerica Supersport Championship, didn’t let the cold weather slow him down while going through the selection of Supersport-spec slicks for Dunlop. By the afternoon, he had found an all-important front compound that he enjoyed.

“Originally, the plan was to test all the tires yesterday and work on bike setup today, but since yesterday was all rained out we’ve really had to cram all the tires in at once,” Gerloff said. “I don’t think we’re going to be able to get too far into bike setup before it gets dark. Dunlop’s been working really hard since the last race in New Jersey to make some new tires and right now I really like one of the front tires. I’m not sure of the code, but it’s working pretty good. I’m still trying to find a rear tire that I enjoy and that works well for me, but we’re making progress and it feels good to be back on a bike again. I haven’t ridden in a while.”

The 2016 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Series kicks off at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, April 8-10.