A Big Step For Dunlop

Henny Ray Abrams | July 18, 2012

The Mid-Ohio AMA Superbike race marked a milestone for control tire supplier Dunlop, which for the first time filled the Superbike podium with U.S. made rear slicks in Saturday’s Mid-Ohio race.

Dunlop has been developing U.S. product to replace the UK tires for the past several years. A few riders tried the new 7455 rear at Barber Motorsports Park, but most didn’t give it a good workout until the test at New Orleans Motorsports Park that followed.

On the new, abrasive NOLA track, the 7455 performed well, which convinced most of the field to use the tire at Mid-Ohio.

“For the conditions that we had here this weekend, it was the best choice that we had for the race,” Hayes said after winning Sunday’s race. “We rode on all of the different options and it was our best choice. We’ll just have to see. I think there’s still a little work to be done. Our lap times were fast. We were as fast or faster than we’d qualified and maintained a really good pace the entire race today, so a big kudos to Buffalo. They did a fantastic job and hopefully they’ll keep working to improve it and we’ll start getting closer to some old lap records.”

Saturday’s second-place finisher Blake Young (Yoshimura Suzuki) said it “worked pretty good. It took maybe a few more turns than a different tire to come in. No complaints in the race. Kudos to those guys, for sure.”

After qualifying on the front row, Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Herrin said the difference was that “exiting the corners it felt a little bit, the way I describe it is a little bit heavier. It’s harder to keep it on the track. It tends to want to run up to the rumble strip or out in the dirt, whatever it may be that’s out there. So it’s just a little bit, for my set-up, it’s just a little bit harder to keep it on the track. So it probably wears me out a little bit more over the course of a race. But overall the tire’s good.”

Dunlop’s road race manager Sabastian Mincone said the 7455 could be in the nine rear-tire allocation, along with two UK specs, for the rest of the season.

“We’re still going to make three specs available,” he said. “The same spec, 7455 is going to be available at Laguna Seca and we’ll carry on for the rest of the season like that. Right now we’re working also on some other projects and as soon as that other one is ready we’ll introduce also that one.”

Asked if he foresaw a time when only Buffalo slicks would be offered, he said it was possible, but that Dunlop wants the riders to decide.

“We’re not going to go anywhere and have only two specs and say, ‘This is what you have,'” he said.

Making a front slick at the plant in Buffalo has proven more difficult. Dunlop has several projects, but they’re focusing on the rear for the moment, as well as the DOTs.

There are a few significant advantages to the riders – one is cost, the other speed. The cost reduction for the U.S. slick is $20 per tire. The bigger advantage is time. Mincone explained that air-freighting tires from the UK is not only expensive, but also takes six to 10 days. Sea freighting them takes a month to 40 days. At the NOLA test Dunlop confirmed the latest development hard DOT, the 8477.

“Everybody was happy with it, we put it in production, boom, we got 300 tires here and we have another 300 back at the factory,” he said.

For full coverage of the Mid-Ohio racing weekend, click on the following link:


Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.