Dunlop Motorsport pairing cutting edge propulsion with specially designed tyres
New fuel solutions can only be optimised with equally new tyre design concepts, according to Dunlop Motorsport, which invited journalists to both witness the unveiling of the latest GreenGT vehicle and learn more about the cutting edge rubber cars like it will be running on.
At the end of August, the Birmingham-based tyre manufacturer announced that it was embarking on a specific development programme to cater for future generations of electric and hyrogen powered racing cars. Clearly the company’s partnership with GreenGT is emblematic of this approach. But with modern fuel and propulsion technology there are more challenges. And these in turn require specific technological solutions from the tyres. As Sebastien Montet, race design and development manager for Dunlop Motorsport explained, there are three main challenges for tyre designers to overcome. The successful application of solutions to these challenges is expected to be driven by tyre design and something that is likely to be the “future power” of motorsport:
“With vehicles such as the GreenGT H2 we need to think about the vehicle weight, different engine characteristics and an improvement in fuel efficiency. A change in vehicle weight will mean an increase in the forces carried by the tyre, different engine torque characteristics mean the tyres require an increase in longitudinal stiffness and improved fuel efficiency will be optimized in lower rolling resistance in the tyres we design.”
One approach that is helping address the latest challenges raised by the latest race vehicle technology is torque vectoring – the ability to vary the amount of power sent to each wheel via a vehicle’s differential. But, in a similar way to ABS and ESP before it, you can’t get the best of this without tyres designed with this in mind.
Montet explained further and added: “Torque vectoring cornering control is often seen as the “hand of God’ for corner capabilities on the track and the road in the future, but the substantial benefits of this technology count for nothing without the appropriate tyre design.
“Whilst the later torque distribution control unequally distributes the engine torque to the left and right wheels, torque vectoring technology provides the differential with the ability to vary the amount of power sent to each wheel which results in optimum lateral acceleration. The suspension can therefore be used to control the vehicle response whereas the torque vectoring focuses on the stability,” Montet continued, adding:
“Looking at the tyre compound alone, the optimum balance of the car controlled on different tracks, surfaces and corners as well as factors such as controlling of wear, reduced uneven wear, the controlling of tyre temperature and reduced rolling resistance will all be determined by the compound that is used. To achieve the best results, the compound needs to be optimised for each track.”
In order to address this requirement, Dunlop has reportedly developed a so-called “circuit characterisation” process that uses lap time simulation to assess the work done by each tyre and define a baseline compound layout for each circuit. In addition, according to Montet, the use of different torque vectoring maps on a specific car could help or lead to rebalance compound and setup choices for each specific track.