Hankook Ventus Race Plus to provide decisive boost in Oschersleben
Previewing this weekend’s DTM racing at the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben, Hankook’s racing engineer has predicted that the company’s softer option tyre could prove the difference for the cars able to use it best. Michael Eckert explained: "I expect that the option tyres will enable a large number of fast laps before any significant drop-off effect becomes discernible here at Oschersleben. The teams who are able to find the right vehicle set-up with which to make optimum use of the Ventus Race Plus will be among those to land the front positions.”
This weekend sees the decisive phase of DTM as it edges towards the denouement of the title contest. Front-runner Mike Rockenfeller is heading to Oschersleben with a comfortable lead of 35 points ahead of Christian Vietoris (Mercedes-Benz) for the third-last race of the year. If the Audi driver manages his third win of the season at the Oschersleben racetrack, the 29-year-old may even be able to celebrate championship victory ahead of time, depending on how the other competitors perform.
Current DTM champion, Bruno Spengler (BMW), has slid down to fourth place in the overall standings and now needs at least one podium position if he is to hang on to his minimal chances of defending his title. But if the Canadian succeeds in repeating last year’s victory, the starting gun could signal a race of hot pursuits. The tyres supplied by the exclusive DTM partner, Hankook, in conjunction with the tyre tactics displayed by the teams are sure to have a major effect both on the qualifying and on the race itself.
Slower circuit means slower degradation
The tarmac of the 3.696-kilometre-long course in Oschersleben is quite kind to the surface of Hankook racing tyres, partly because the track is actually one of the slowest in the most popular international touring car series. “The base-line slick Ventus Race already proved its good grip at last year’s event here, demonstrating a high constancy and low level of drop-off. And this year will be no different,” explains Eckert.
However, what presents a considerable challenge to the construction of the tyres are the many long-radius bends, some of which continue for up to 180 degrees. In these turns, it is important that the cars adopt a good position to enable them to accelerate as fast as possible to enter the generally short straights that follow. What frequently happens then is that they hit the kerbs and drive over them. Eckert continues: “often the drivers are driving a straight line through the chicane, which takes them over several high kerbstones. This places considerable strain on the structure of the tyre, which is, however, designed to cope with such stresses.”
Another stress factor arising from the twisting track is the high aerodynamic downforce of the cars, which is magnified still more by the mechanical grip of the tyres. This leads to lost speed on the straights, which is, however, more than compensated for by the fast speeds in the bends. Both drivers and teams are called upon to show a sense of proportion, particularly with the Ventus Race Plus option tyres from Hankook. “At a speed of 200 km/h, the aerodynamic downforce from all four wheels produces an extra 600 kg of stress in addition to the weight of the vehicle. And since the option tyres are generally driven at a low air pressure, these forces act even more strongly on the tyre structure than they do with the base-line slick. For this reason, it is important to stick to a certain safety margin compared to the Ventus Race,” advises Hankook’s DTM racing engineer.
For Eckert, the key to success with the soft Hankook tyre is handling because the option tyre enables considerably faster lap times than the base-line slick. However, considering the specific characteristics of the track at Oschersleben with its many narrow 180-degree bends and high levels of aerodynamic downforce from the cars, he does not expect such long stints as with other DTM courses.