Getting Competitive with Dunlop
With Dunlop’s new product activity in 2006 restricted to the release of the niche market D407 Harley Davidson tyre and the Sportmax GPR100 maxi scooter tyre, the main excitement coming from the Dunlop camp centres upon racing and motorsport. And this enthusiasm comes from the very top – in the past few months the company has publicly voiced its intention to step up support for both motorcycle racing and MotoGP.
Dunlop is increasing its investment in racing during the 2007 season through the supply of its Sportmax Qualifier to the new Ducati Sport 1000 Cup series, a competition in which riders can compete using standard Ducati Sport Classic motorcycles. The Sportmax Qualifier, as the control tyre for the eight-round series, will benefit every rider through providing them with a level playing field.
In addition to supporting the Ducati Sport 1000 Cup, Dunlop will continue in its role as a major tyre supplier to the British Superbike Championship, and in the youth class will act as the title sponsor of the ACU MotoStar Cup.
Investment in MotoGP manufacturing
In October Dunlop announced plans for significant investment in new manufacturing technology at its establishment in Birmingham. This new technology is, in the words of Dunlop, ‘Aimed at delivering sustained, long term success in the highest level of motorcycle racing, the MotoGP world championship.’
The investment will see new tyre building machinery installed at the Tyre Fort, Birmingham factory. This equipment is designed to produce the bespoke tyres essential for catering to the needs of specific riders, bikes, circuits and even climates. When the machinery is operational, the surface of a particular track can be mapped using a form of satellite navigation and the data thus obtained fed into a computer linked to the tyre building machinery. The resulting tyre will therefore be tailored to suit any particular required conditions.
This cutting-edge technology has been further explained by Jean-Felix Bazelin, Dunlop Motorsport’s general manager. “We can create tyres with a variety of compound applications across one tyre tread face, optimised to the exact needs of each racing circuit. The circuit mapping means that we will design and build tyres with specific compounds and construction elements to match the number of left and right handed corners on each lap, resulting in an asymmetrical tyre that will precisely match the demands of the different cornering speeds, lean angles and surfaces of each circuit. This new process, using fully computerised technology gives us absolute accuracy and uniformity. Not only does this help the teams and riders, it improves efficiency in the production process by reducing waste in material, energy and time.”
Due to the enormous variations in track design and cornering found in the MotoGP competition, and due to the many different climates in which riders compete, the use of bespoke tyres for each different event is an absolute must. Therefore the new manufacturing technology in Birmingham will be of enormous benefit to motocross riders and the sport as a whole. As Bazelin sees it, “Fort Dunlop can be considered as a motorsport ‘centre of excellence’ in the global organisation. This investment is a signal that motorsport is at the heart of the Dunlop brand, and we are proud that we are able to reveal an investment in one of Birmingham’s most famous manufacturing plants.”