Dunlop hail performance gains in 2017 LMP2 prototype tyre test
- Dunlop test new specifications with new 2017 LMP2 manufacturers
- New LMP2 cars close to 2012 WEC LMP1 pace
- Rigorous test programme provides significant gains
- Learnings from 2016 LMP1 programme translate to new LMP2 regulations
Just a few weeks after providing the grip for teams to win three classes of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) , Dunlop are making major steps during testing for the 2017 season.
With WEC and the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) adopting brand-new regulations for the LMP2 category, Dunlop committed early in 2016 to developing and launching a new range of LMP2 tyres for 2017.
This Summer, Dunlop began LMP2 track testing with a 2016 chassis converted to simulate the increased downforce of the new cars. Dunlop chose Sebring Raceway in central Florida due to its climate and a mix of abrasive tarmac and smooth concrete. This mix of surfaces replicates the characteristics of many different circuits.
Dunlop returned to Sebring last week with over 1000 2017 prototype tyres for the latest stage of testing. A range of LMP2 teams attended the test (representing ORECA, Dallara and Ligier chassis) enabling Dunlop to refine their 2017 tyres to suit all three cars.
The testing process began well before the cars hit the track. Step one was to do virtual tyre modelling, step two was to test the tyres on a laboratory machine that allows Dunlop to compare aspects such as grip and sensitivity to load, pressure and camber. This data is then checked against the driver feedback to ensure that the correlation is correct.
Sebastien Montet, Director, Tire Technology at Dunlop Motorsport explained: “For developing the new LMP2 tyres we took learnings from three areas. Firstly, our productive and successful return to LMP1 helped us understand the impact of increased downforce and power. Secondly, our work with the modified 2016 car allowed us to simulate 2017 power and downforce, and finally the modelling and simulation process allowed us to make significant development steps even before the new cars were launched.’
In the Dunlop test, the new LMP2 cars were close to the 2012 WEC LMP1 pace (the last time WEC visited Sebring). The new LMP2 cars were consistently lapping around 1m 47s. In 2012 the LMP1 pole time was 1m 45.8s. (NB: The LMP2 pole time in the 2016 Sebring 12h, running to IMSA tyre regulations, was 1m 51.2)
This gain comes from the combination of the new regulations and tire specifications.Most importantly, Dunlop are confident that they have a tire that is durable and works well on all types of LMP2 chassis. “Whilst finding improvements in individual lap times is important, the total race time is what matters. Our tests have confirmed that we have made the expected steps forward in performance , but we are also highly confident that we’ve built on the durability and consistency that was the bedrock of our championship winning 2016 season”.
Dunlop’s pre-season testing continues at Aragon, Spain and Monza, Italy in March before the ELMS and WEC seasons start at Silverstone on April 15/16.