The 1990s ‘Super Touring’ era of saloon car racing is fondly regarded as one of the most spectacular periods in motorsport. Heavy investment from car manufacturers led to the development of highly advanced technology under the skin of familiar looking saloon cars. Two decades on, historic racing promoters are recreating these evocative grids, with many original cars emerging from museums and private collections. Dunlop, a championship winning tyre company in that period, has relaunched a tyre to grip this revival.
Dunlop tyres were used by many teams in Super Touring car championships such as the British, French, Italian and World Cup events. The brand, celebrating its 130th year of racing this year, has reintroduced its 212/650R19 Super Touring tyre after demand from teams and drivers who wanted a tyre that could replicate the high performance from a period when companies like Audi, Honda, Renault, Alfa Romeo, Ford, Toyota, BMW, Nissan and Volvo went into battle.
Michael Butler of Dunlop Motorsport said: “Historic racing moves with the times. Cars of 20 years ago are now seen as historically interesting and fans, drivers and teams are beginning to appreciate significant cars from that period again. Cars that are this advanced need a bespoke tyre and Dunlop were asked to recreate the tyre from that period. After extensive testing, we have now put the tyre back into production.”
The relaunched tyre has similar performance to those used in the period, but achieves its performance with a different compound and construction. Butler, who provided Dunlop tyre engineering support to the championship winning Audi team in that period, explained: “In the nineties, there were no limits on tyre development. We had qualifying tyres, specifications for sprint and endurance races and different tyres to suit each manufacturer. Modern day historic racing teams do not need this complexity. We’ve used the latest materials to replicate the performance of that ‘tyre war’ era but with the durability and consistency that’s important for a season on a sustainable budget.”
The Dunlop Super Touring tyre uses a more durable construction than its nineties forebear and actually uses the same compound as the current British Touring Car Championship ‘Dunlop Sport Maxx Prime’ tyre.
The tyres have been tested by drivers such as historic racing expert James Dodd and British Touring Car legend John Cleland, a winner in the 1990s with the Vauxhall Cavalier and Vectra. Testing has shown a significant improvement in performance, particularly due to strong stability and steering feedback.
It is expected that the ‘new’ Dunlop will be used by teams in in a variety of revival events in 2019 including the Silverstone Classic and Historic Sports Car Club Super Touring Championship.