Dunlop’s Qualifier range has been one of the most successful in its history, having spawned four different variants since its 2006 debut.
For 2017, the Q3 becomes the Q3+, a tire that Dunlop claims is over a second per lap faster than the outgoing Q3 around the Huntsville test track in Alabama.
As the only hypersport tire designed and constructed in the U.S., Dunlop’s aiming at a broad spectrum of riders with the Q3+. A complaint about the old Q3 was it would wear out too quickly. Dunlop claims this new Q3+ tire will give you about 20 percent more mileage than before, as well as simplifying the choice riders need to make when choosing a set of hoops. Whereas there are four different sets of Michelins and six sets of Pirelli’s in the same segment, Dunlop claims the Q3+ is the only tire you’ll need, offering better lap times and 20 percent more mileage.
Yet the Q3+ is only really a new rear tire. The single compound front tire is almost unchanged to the Q3, Dunlop only giving it minor tread stiffness changes rather than reinventing the construction and compound. As such a rear Q3+ and front Q3 are compatible.
Instead, the rear tire gets all the goodies, as the twin-compound Q3+ is about 80 percent changed compared to the Q3.
“We changed the rear compound substantially,” says Dunlop’s Q3+ Lead Product Engineer, Sean Bell. “The Q3 used carbon black in the center compound, like in the shoulder. On the Q3+, we went to a special resin-based silica compound, which helps us give the 20 percent increase in mileage.”
Carbon fiber also makes a return on the Q3+. Originally debuted on the Q3 of 2013, Dunlop’s used carbon fiber in the sidewalls to give the tire better stability at high lean angles and good transitional steering performance from bolt upright to full lean.
The side construction of the rear Q3+ isn’t that different to the outgoing Q3. The profile is the same but the volume of rubber has increased, and by changing the tension of the carcass and using the Dunlop Intuitive Response Profile, the Dunlop engineers have been able to increase the contact patch and 40-50° lean angle to put more rubber on the ground in the most crucial point of cornering.
“By changing the tread in the shoulder, we increase the tread stiffness without changing the recipe of the tire too much,” says Bell. “As the tire wears down, the compound and its properties don’t change, but the tread becomes stiffer as a unit, and ultimately that does improve corner stability as well.”
The tread groove is the same as the Q3. Long but minimal in their appearance, they are designed to put as much rubber on the ground as possible but still give decent wet weather grip, something we didn’t test out when we rode on them in Texas.
All up, Dunlop says the Q3+ gives 25 percent more grip exiting the corner, a 25 percent improvement in corner stability and 15 percent more edge grip, as well as better thermal stability for faster warm up to go with the claimed 20 percent improvement in mileage.
We spent a day running around greater Austin, TX, and an hour with Circuit of The Americas all to ourselves to put the Q3+ through its paces.
It’s always a bit of a guessing game with brand new tires on the street because new rubber almost always feels pretty good, no matter what the brand. The Q3+ was no exception, offering great stability over some pretty rough roads and good turn in performance, but we barely managed 120 miles on the hoops, so all we could give was an initial interpretation.
Transferring the riding to the track bought the performance of the tire into the light. These are still predominantly a road-based tire, but the Q3+ still gave impressive performance over the course of an hour at CoTA.
Initial turn-in on the front was unsurprisingly smooth, a known fact given the front Q3+ is almost unchanged to the outgoing Q3. The rear, on the other hand, provided an impressive level of corner exit performance and feel. After 10 minutes on track, the grip level came down somewhat but didn’t deteriorate much for the rest of the hour, a good sign for the tire longevity claim made by Dunlop at the start of the day.
I doubt the claim made by Dunlop that this tire can do up to seven trackdays (I guess it depends on how hard you ride), but overall single day performance was indeed quite good, the tires always telling you where you are and how much grip you’ve got left before they finally let go.
Dunlop’s increased the prices of the Q3+ ever so slightly to $180.96 for the front 120/70 ZR17, up to $271.69 for the largest 190/55 ZR17 rear, but it’s still a competitive package. With the previous Q3 being such a success, the Q3+ isn’t a massive diversion from that winning formula, yet they have refined the package overall without increasing the cost too much.
The Q3+ indeed a good tire for sport/trackday riding, comparable to the Michelin Power Cup Evo and the Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa, and a worthy successor to the Q3.