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Dunlop looking to strengthen grip in MotoGP

Dunlop looking to strengthen grip in MotoGP

Dunlop looking to strengthen grip in MotoGP

Dunlop looking to strengthen grip in MotoGP As competition intensifies between the rival factories set do battle with their latest evolution four-stroke machines in the 2003 MotoGP World Championship, so does the struggle between the rival tyre manufacturers vying to provide them with their own latest advances in rubber technology. For Dunlop it has been another key winter of testing, as they look to strengthen their foothold in a premier-class currently dominated by their main market rivals Michelin. `In all we have done 30 days of tests with Kawasaki since the end of last season,' explains Motorsport Promotion Manager Jeremy Ferguson. `In that time we have tested close to 200 different compounds and constructions, with the major work on the rear tyre. Our main aim is to lift the level of rear grip over race distance. That was a problem which became clear last season and we have been focusing our global development resource in Europe and Japan on this.´

All the testing has been done with Kawasaki, themselves also working extremely hard to develop their new bikes, as Dunlop´s other MotoGP team WCM-Harris have hardly turned a wheel prior to the IRTA test in Catalunya on March 15th. `Kawasaki and ourselves are in an identical situation, and we share the same goals,´ says Mr Ferguson. `This is a great basis for a good partnership.´ Whilst Mr Ferguson acknowledges that it is difficult to persuade teams and factories to consider switching tyre suppliers, he points out: `For instance, we had a programme during the winter in America, particularly with American Honda which led to a 1,2,3 for Dunlop-shod Hondas at the Daytona 200, and we are working with other manufacturers in areas close to MotoGP.´

With information already emanating from Michelin about improvements to both compound and construction, Dunlop know that they will have to raise their game for 2003. `We have enough respect for our rivals to realise that we are no longer competing with their 2002 tyres. They have been working hard in the winter and will have lifted the level higher. How high, we won´t know until the first race. All we can do is concentrate on our own game, and we have been working to improve in all areas. We have new front and rear wets, and have also been developing tyres to cope with the new neutralisation regulations. For example, we could end up with a three, four, or five lap sprint on some occasions, and we need a product available for that condition.´

Whilst Dunlop continue to dominate both the 250 class, picking up their 100th consecutive win and 10th consecutive World Championship in 2002, and the 125 class where 2002 brought their 6th consecutive World Championship title, Mr Ferguson insists that MotoGP is the main concern of their motorcycle racing division. `MotoGP is the top of the pyramid, if not we wouldn´t be there and it is clear that Michelin and Bridgestone feel the same way. It is a very broad pyramid, however, and we maintain development in all other activities, including AMA, WSB, WSS, MX, Endurance, and the national championships… the list is endless. In the motorcycle world it is essential to be involved in motorcycle sport. It would be impossible for us to not be involved and maintain our position as the number one supplier of road tyres, which we are now. We are not there to be beaten every week or to set ourselves up for criticism. We have to prove that we are meeting the challenge of our number one and number two rivals, so yes, MotoGP is a priority activity for Dunlop´.

MotoGP, 2003

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