Dunlop riders complete TT tyre testing
Dunlop wrapped up its road racing test programme with a further two days at Castle Combe last week, with the Honda Racing dream team of John McGuinness and new recruit Guy Martin aboard their brand new Honda Fireblade SP2s. The Wiltshire track is most akin to the bumps, twists and turns of the iconic Isle of Man TT course, and provided Dunlop with the chance to carry out final validation of the tyre options available for the event later this month.
Variable conditions greeted Dunlop and its team of engineers on Tuesday, but Wednesday’s better weather allowed McGuinness and Martin, together with Padgett’s Racing’s Bruce Anstey and Jackson Racing’s Lee Johnston ample opportunity to try different tyre options. Rider feedback is fundamental in understanding which compounds work best around the complex 37.73 mile course, taking into account the performance characteristics of each bike and rider, and maximising tyre stability and longevity.
Across the two days, Dunlop riders completed more than 300 laps of the 1.85 mile track, with all riders and team managers satisfied with the available options ahead of the first road race event of the season, the North West 200 on May 10-14.
Pat Walsh, Event Leader for Dunlop Motorcycle
“It’s been a very positive test for us. Honda naturally had their new bikes and so spent a lot of time with the new machinery and set-up. All the compounds and constructions we brought to the test worked very well and have been very well received by the teams. Thankfully we got away with the weather and were able to complete a significant number of laps and fulfil our objective ahead of the first road race of the season.”
Johnny Twelvetrees, Team Manager, Honda Racing
“So we have reached the end of our testing programme and the North West 200 is around the corner. We have been working closely with Dunlop during the tests and it’s been great as we have been able to evaluate different tyre options and work with the riders and team to find the best options for the roads, as well as the Fireblade. We’re at that point now where we need to prove the new bike on the roads, we have done all we can short circuit testing and the next step is the North West 200 where the speeds really get up! Then we take it from there and keep pushing ready for the Isle of Man TT. I feel we’re in a good place and I am looking forward to seeing how we get on at the North West 200.”
John McGuinness, Honda Racing
“The tests have been going well and have been really beneficial for everyone, from the team, to Guy and myself. The new Fireblade is a big step forward for us, but, as with anything new, there’s a lot to learn and every outing we are learning and developing as we go. This year I have matched the times from last year’s test at Castle Combe, but didn’t feel I was pushing hard for those times – it was easy to match. So I think once we’ve got those few tweaks and we’re pushing on, we’ll be able to give the lads at the front a run for their money. I enjoy testing as of course you need to do it and we need the development time to get everything ready, but I really can’t wait to get out there now, start racing and seeing what we can do!”
Guy Martin, Honda Racing
“When I came back it was to give the roads the best shot on a Honda on Dunlops, so this is what we’re doing. We’re all working together and it’s down to me, John and the lads, listening to each other and putting it all together. The team likes to test at Castle Combe, which is bumpy, but you don’t know what you’re up against until you get out into a race environment. Don’t get me wrong, we need to test and it’s helpful, but nothing compares to racing! It’s good to be back racing, there’s a lot to do for me and also for the new Fireblade, it’s a machine I tell you, but we do have some work to do and I love the challenge of getting it right.”
Clive Padgett, Team Manager, Padgett’s Racing
“It was a very successful test from our side. Once again Dunlop brought a number of compounds to try across all classes, and I’m very happy with how it’s all gone. Over the four days we’re very happy with the back to back tests with the GP Pro D213 against the GP Pro D212 and in our opinion there are some great improvements. The bikes are hitting the apex, holding the line, the tyre wear is great, with much less banding on the tyre and graining on the section of the tyre where you’re driving forward on the rear. The front grip is great, the steering, and the geometry, believe me the tyres are fantastic."