09:51 AM

Dunlop teams and riders prepared for 2018 road race campaign following positive tyre testing

Dunlop has completed its customary road race test programme with partner teams Honda Racing and Padgett’s Racing at Castle Combe circuit, which culminated in two days at the Wiltshire track last week. The testing gave Dunlop the opportunity to carry out final validation of the tyre options available, to allow the most successful tyre manufacturer in the history of the Isle of Man TT to provide ‘the right tyre for the job’ when the event gets underway next month.

Honda Racing’s Lee Johnston and Padgett’s Racing rider Conor Cummins both reported excellent grip and stability across both slick KR106/KR108 and treaded options, essential for road racing.  Across the main solo classes, Dunlop has selected the best tyre options for its teams and riders, based on data gathered after last year’s TT, which were assessed in the recent testing. 

Despite changeable weather across the final two days, Dunlop riders completed more than 300 laps of the 1.85 mile track, which is the most similar to the characteristics of the iconic Isle of Man TT course. Rider feedback is central to understanding which compounds work best around the complex 37.733 mile course, taking into account the performance characteristics of each bike and rider combination, and maximising tyre stability and durability.

The first major event on the 2018 road race calendar, the North West 200 takes place on 13-19 May, with the Isle of Man TT commencing with practice week just one week later on 26 May and race week starting on 2 June.

Pat Walsh, Event Leader Dunlop Motorcycle

“Our 2018 tyre testing programme has been completed with our partner teams and once again it proved very positive from all sides. We tried a combination of different compounds and constructions across the main classes, which were all well received by the riders and teams, and have allowed us to select the tyres we’ll take to the NW200 and Isle of Man TT. Rider feedback is fundamental to that decision, to ensure they have the best available option for every race. Despite the changeable conditions, we were able to complete a significant number of laps and fulfil our objective.”

Jonny Twelvetrees, Team Manager, Honda Racing

“Testing has gone really well from a team perspective. Considering most of the previous test sessions have been in horrible conditions and wet, and we haven’t been able to get out much, the progress we’ve made in the last two days has been really good and strong. The riders are happy and I think we’re in a good spot for the NW200 and TT. The riders have their favourite tyre and tend to stick with them if they’ve got something that works and that’s what we use as a base from which to dial in the suspension and electronics.”

Lee Johnston, Honda Racing

“The lap times have improved significantly from last year when it was much hotter. We’re lapping now as quick on the new Fireblade, as I did on the older model last year. The wind was a bit of factor on Wednesday, and we didn’t get much chance to push on with the fronts particularly, but the rears have definitely got good grip and stability. On the roads that’s all you really want is for the bike to be stable and have good drive grip. I’m feeling really good now ahead of the North West 200 and IOMTT, it’s the first time in two years I’m without any injuries and I’m feeling fit and well in myself and really looking forward to going racing.”

Conor Cummins, Padgett’s Racing 

“It’s been a really productive test and we got in about 150 laps over the two days. We tested a number of different compounds and it’s been really positive. All the tyres have been a step forward. We tried all the treaded tyres and got some mega feedback as we’ve been working with the Dunlop guys, and numerous front slick compounds, and now have a good plan for the roads. The feel is a massive step forward, but to be honest, we’ve also got a really good chassis, so I’m feeling positive ahead of the NW200 and IOMTT.”

Clive Padgett, Team Manager, Padgett’s Racing

“It was a very successful test from our side once again, we’ve had a great couple of days. Conor’s over the moon, in fact, we cut our day short as he was pleased, and to be honest, after so many laps you can lose the objective. We’ve managed to test all the tyres that Dunlop brought across all classes, fronts and rears, with the riders reporting good feeling and grip from the fronts and happy on all counts with the rears. The wind spoilt it a little later on Wednesday when it wasn’t possible for them to push on as hard as they’d have liked to get the best feel from the tyres, but overall I’m very happy with how it’s all gone and ready for the season ahead.