Phillip Island tyres sent to Dunlop headquarters
- By Stefan Bartholomaeus
- Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
Dunlop has sent a selection of Supercars tyres to its headquarters in Japan as part of an extensive investigation into the failures that occurred at the WD-40 Phillip Island 500.
The first race weekend at the high-speed Phillip Island venue for the 2017 Dunlops was rocked by a spate of tyre issues, with 18 failures recorded in Saturday’s race alone.
Just five issues occurred during the Sunday race as the majority of teams heeded instructions to be more conservative with their tyre pressures and camber settings.
Dunlop is investigating the failures to determine whether changes to the tyre need to be made before Bathurst in October, which is the next high-load circuit on the calendar.
Adelaide, Phillip Island, Bathurst and Pukekohe all feature the harder of the two tyre compounds, which has been designated as the ‘soft’ for 2017.
Dunlop’s Australian motorsport manager, Kevin Fitzsimons, says that the tyre firm is taking the Phillip Island issue very seriously.
“We’ve sent nine tyres from the weekend that are showing various stages of stress back to our world headquarters,” Fitzsimons told Supercars.com.
“We clearly saw at Phillip Island that the tyre is being overloaded when taken beyond its operating parameters.
“It’s very high up in the sidewall, up in the tread area, where excess flexing appears to tear the inner liner of the tyre.
“That’s allowing air to escape from the inside of the tyre into the sidewall area, which creates the rapid deflation.
“We know that, but now we need to find the best way to take that stress out of the tyre to ensure that we don’t see a repeat of Phillip Island.
“Once the full analysis takes place we’ll work with Supercars’ technical department and the teams to determine the best outcome moving forward.”
The failures at Phillip Island shone the spotlight on how aggressive teams have become with set-up on the new tyre, which has proven very response to camber.
Analysis by Supercars and Dunlop at the event showed that Saturday’s front and rear tyre failures were occurring with static cambers in excess of -6.5 and -3.5 respectively.
Speaking on Inside Supercars this evening, Supercars commentator Neil Crompton said that finding a way to curb the aggressive set-ups is a big challenge for the category.
“Forget about the tyre, the brand or the construction,” he said.
“When you get to somewhere in the order of nine degrees of negative front camber, they (the tyres) would need to be made out of kryptonite to be able to deal with that.
“This is really unusual and Formula 1 and IndyCar have been through this a little bit as well, finding performance with abnormal geometric settings.
“It’s really something that’s going to have to be managed because I don’t know that you can engineer (make a tyre) around that.”
In addition to being aggressive with camber, teams are known to bleed tyres on the grid to ensure starting pressures are as low as possible without breaching the 17psi minimum requirement.
Supercars lifted the minimum to 19psi as a one-off measure for Sunday’s race at Phillip Island.