Picture yourself motoring down the Kings Highway between Canberra and Batemans’ Bay; minding your own business and the speed limit, when suddenly, one of your tyres simply disintegrates.
Now, imagine that happening when you are traveling at top speed, alongside competitors doing everything in their power to pass you or prevent you from passing them, and you have a good idea of the dilemma Supercars drivers have been facing in 2017 as the Dunlop tyres go from normal to shreds of rubber for no apparent reason.
Dunlop introduced new tyres, a “next generation,” this season that were supposed to supply enhanced cornering traction and faster lap times. The New and Improved tyres instead added the element of surprise that could be characterised only as the propensity to suffer a sudden loss of inflation.
The old tyres are still being used in the Dunlop Super2 Series and seem to be much the better choice for drivers who prefer tyres that hold air and remain in one piece for the duration of their use.
Rumours that the drivers have resorted to stopping at the local Costco to purchase rubber for the race are totally unfounded.
Instead, Dunlop and Supercars will take three new tyre designs to Phillips Island in early September to undergo extensive testing. The hope is that Dunlop has found a solution to eradicate the problems. They began making tyres quite some time ago and have been the exclusive supplier for Supercars for 15 years, so it would be reasonable to conclude, so long as you are willing to extend the benefit of the doubt, that they could make tyres that can withstand the rigours of racing, even if they do not have a blimp to fly over the racecourses, ala Goodyear.
Ford, Holden and the Nissan teams will all take part in the tests, but the Ford team has taken the precaution of using a spare car down to the test, rather than risk turning a top car into a twisted hunk of metal, plastic and rubber.