Dunlop – 130 Years of Winning
We have a strong team at our Innovation Center and the Kordsa team integrate very effectively. Their cooperation fits with our One Team approach.
Dunlop was created for one purpose. The goal to win a race. When John Boyd Dunlop developed the pneumatic tire, it was to make his son’s tricycle racer go faster, for longer. It won the race, starting a sporting journey that continues, 130 years on.
Dunlop went on to score more wins in the Le Mans 24-hour race than any other tire company. This legacy of proven performance in the world’s toughest endurance races mean Dunlop is chosen by top Le Mans prototype squads and Nürburgring 24h teams. Kordsa play a small, but important, role in driving the Dunlop success story.
Motorsport is an arena where the need to control speeds and costs means that many championships have chosen single supplier tire contracts. Formula One, Formula E and most Touring Car series have such control tires. Dunlop do supply some one-brand series, but the brand’s main focus is to prove its tires versus the competition, hence the focus on endurance racing which encourages a ‘tire war’. This forces Dunlop to experiment with new technologies and new materials, some developed in-house and some in cooperation with partners such as Kordsa.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Nürburgring feature such ‘open competition’ but the nature of the circuits stand apart from the sanitised template so common at lesser, newer – and shorter – race circuits.
It’s no coincidence that Dunlop centres its competition season around these events. The brand, part of Goodyear Dunlop Operations, embraces the relative technical freedom these arenas permit, enticed by the prospect of genuine rivalries.
When the 600 horsepower G-Drive Oreca took LMP2 victory in May’s Spa-Francorchamps 6 hours World Endurance Championship (WEC) race, it marked Dunlop’s 50th win in the championship – more than any other tire company.
The LMP2 class proves a tough environment for tire development. The cars have high levels of downforce and the tires must last several stints. A smart regulation in WEC restricts the number of people who can touch a car during a pit stop. This means a tire change has a far greater penalty than in F1, so the teams ask Dunlop to make tires that can race hard for over 600 km – around 6 times further than a set of F1 tires.
Having evolved the designs during the off-season, Dunlop’s engineers work with the teams in testing before setting compounds and constructions for the season. Specifications for this year were decided with intensive testing at Le Castellet, Aragon and Sebring. The work, however, is far from finished with each test or race, as Dunlop engineers work closely with the teams to fine-tune set-ups to get the best performance for each individual team, car and driver combination. Suspension settings and tire pressures directly affect performance in terms of both speed and durability. Lap times are getting faster year after year, but speed is just one requirement from the tires. Dunlop designs rubber for multiple stints, with double-stinting now being taken for granted and triple- or even quadruple-stinting achievable.
Achieving this speed and durability and maintaining desired performance is a challenge. The Goodyear Dunlop Innovation Center works closely with Kordsa in developing new materials. Every element of the tire, whether compound, cord, steel and even the quality of the air inside it needs to work in harmony. If one element doesn’t perform to the maximum over a long, demanding race stint, then the whole performance package can be affected.
Therefore, open collaboration is key. This is where the Kordsa relationship matters according to Raphael Beck, Goodyear Dunlop’s Global Reinforcement Engineer: “We have a strong team at our Innovation Center and the Kordsa team integrate very effectively. Their cooperation fits with our One Team approach. We are developing materials, and so are Kordsa. The collaboration gives us the opportunity to share resources and we strive to achieve the same goal – winning more races and championships”.