- Dunlop highlights the importance of authenticity in historic racing
- Range expands by over 50% in two years
Dunlop is at the cutting edge of tyre design, with wins in the 2018 FIA World Endurance Championship and Le Mans 24 hours, but the tyre company also recognises the importance of its motorsport heritage.
Dunlop’s first Le Mans win was in 1924 and its tyres have been used to win major races in every decade since then. Far from being consigned to museums and private collections, an increasing number of these historically significant cars are returning to the racetracks.
To cater for this growth in historic racing, Dunlop has underlined its commitment to the sector by increasing the scope of its period range by over 50% since 2017. Dunlop now lists 55 different tyres in its historic catalogue, broadly covering racing cars from the 1920s to early 1970s, but also adding some specifications for more recent cars.
Mathias Kipp, Car Motorsport Manager, said: “Historic racing is a major growth area and it is exciting to see the surge in interest. Fans love nostalgia and drivers are enjoying the rewards of owning and racing a historic car.
“Very few tyre manufacturers have the rich history of Dunlop, and even fewer have such a commitment to maintaining production of historic tyres. We’ve listened to car owners and chosen to expand our range significantly. This means that drivers at events such as the Goodwood Revival, Le Mans Classic, Monte Carlo Historique and the hundreds of other retro events around the world can race on the original specification of tyre.”
Dunlop’s range expansion includes tyres for many historically important cars. For example, the 700-19 is designed for the famous Bentley, ERA and Alfa Romeo racers of the 1920s and 1930s.
One of the fans’ favourite Le Mans generations was the period in the late 1960s to early 1970s when the aerodynamically advanced Ferrari 512 and Porsche 917 went head to head, a clash immortalised in the Steve McQueen ‘Le Mans’ film. Dunlop has reintroduced the wide diameter tyres to fit the 15 inch wheels of these racers. The same era saw the emergence of lightweight prototypes battling the manufacturers at Le Mans. Dunlop’s range expansion includes three 13 inch sizes to suit cars such as the Matra, Lola 212 and Chevron B16 that featured in these ‘David versus Goliath’ battles.
The authenticity of tyre performance and specification is important to the FIA, the governing body of the sport. ‘Its Appendix K’ regulations stipulate the use of components, including tyres, that reflect the specification of the period. The Dunlop historic range complies with these regulations and is even specified as Original Equipment fitment for newly built 'continuation' models such as the Aston Martin DB4 GT.
In addition to these cross-ply construction tyres, Dunlop has also added more recent radial specifications to its historic range. To capitalise on the interest in modern classics, racing promoters have created championships for Le Mans Prototypes (LMP1 and LMP2 specifications), recent GT2 and Super Touring cars. Dunlop has also added tyre specifications for these recent racers to its historic range.
“In 2018, Dunlop celebrated its 130th year since inventing the pneumatic tyre. We now have a historic tyre range that covers most of the sport’s greatest periods, right up to recent Le Mans and Touring car generations,” concluded Mathias.