The very latest road and race tyres require countless hours of extensive testing, much of which is often carried out on the track.
Usually these intensive track sessions take place behind closed doors, but last weekend Dunlop took the unusual step of entering their test machine in the French Superbike Championship with former MotoGP star tuned FIM EWC rider Xavier Simeon in the hot seat.
Simeon’s YZF-R1 was fitted with the latest spec Dunlop Superbike tyres, and the weekend would give them an excellent opportunity to evaluate their performance at premier race level.
Despite dominating in qualifying, Simeon retired from the opening race. However, in race two he was part of a thrilling five-way battle for the lead, eventually pulling away to win by a clear 3-second margin ahead of Mathieu Gines.
After the race Simeon said:
“We could have had a perfect weekend having dominated every part of qualifying. I made a mistake in race one. For the second race, I changed my strategy. I was able to get in the lead and create a comfortable gap. I thank Dunlop for their great work, the tyres worked really well. I am also very happy with the Yamaha, for me it’s a novelty to go back to production based bikes and I had a lot of fun.”
Dunlop’s Technology Director, Sebastien Montet, explained the importance of real racing to tyre development:
“When we see the performance of high-potential new developments in private tests, running our test bike in races gives us the opportunity to evaluate the performance before releasing them to all customer teams. Running with a top-level rider in a real race allows us to extract the last 5% of performance which you don’t always see in a testing session.”
The YZF-R1 ridden by Xavier is part of Dunlop’s own Test Team fleet, which regularly operates at their Proving Grounds in Mireval, France. In the coming weeks, the manufacturer will announce which other events and championships will be entered, with a number of top-level riders set to take part to give a wide range of feedback.