GT Radial R&D investments supporting higher performance products
Established as a leading Chinese tyre brand, GT Radial continues to develop higher performance products through an increasing emphasis on R&D investment, and, in the UK specifically, with its brand experience days for dealers hosted by the company’s European Testing Centre at Mira. Tyres & Accessories’ visit, where the performance of TBR and off-road 4×4 products were demonstrated by the company’s test drivers alongside the highest performing PCR models that are the focus of this article. When T&A spoke with ETC head Eddie Young, who is involved with GT Radial manufacturer Giti Tire’s R&D operations around the world, he played up the growing strength of the brand in this area, which now has close to 300 full-time R&D personnel. The strategy of hiring ex-pats from premium brands has led to an experienced, multinational knowledge base, which is allowing GT Radial to pursue cross-segment original equipment goals in Europe, where it “is already competing for PCR” deals, according to Young.
Giti currently uses three major and rigorous proving grounds, Ding Yuan in China and Mellatracks in Finland joining the UK base at Mira. Its capabilities are also being enhanced by the latest R&D facility in China, which boasts an appropriately elephantine footprint of 27,247m2. Some significant advantages this is giving the company include a stronger focus on environmentally friendly products, the improvement of production technology and processes and compliance with product regulations. But the most significant improvement for the events of the Experience Day is that seen in the company’s technical specifications and performance capabilities.
The manufacturer’s Champiro VP1, whose largest sizes fall into V-rated high performance territory, and the “entry level” ultra-high performance Champiro UHP1, which has sizes up to 19 inches and plenty of coverage for the W speed index within its 34 fitment range, are together helping GT Radial to supply tyres into the segment. Fitted to the Ariel Atom at Mira, the GT Radials give the test driver the confidence to throw the car around a dry handling track. In the hands of a skilful driver, it feels exhilaratingly fast. The tyres, just regulation 16 inch road tyres, handle reliably according to the driver with “very predictable grip” in the corners. It’s a similar story in the BMW; without the kart-esque handling of the Atom, the driver can drift around corners on both the dry and wet circuits. Again, both drivers praise the tyre’s “predictability”, as well as its grip and stability.
In terms of characteristics, the more versatile Champiro VP1 has four deep, wide circumferential tread grooves for better performance in the wet; stable shoulder block with lateral grooves for responsiveness and cornering grip; a centre rib to improve straight line stability; lateral grooves and sipes in the tread blocks, improving wet handling and reducing road noise; and a grippy compound.
Meanwhile the UHP1 boasts a more solid shoulder design for cornering grip; four straight circumferential grooves for smoother water dispersion and wet performance; and a high-silica tread compound. These join a similarly solid centre rib for straight-line stability during acceleration and breaking and optimised pitch variance design to reduce noise.