The name Goodyear has been absent from motorsport outside North America for a while now. This will change on Sunday. Goodyear says it is “well prepared” for its comeback after conducting 7,500 miles of tests at seven circuits.
The tyre maker has developed four new tyre specifications for the eight rounds of the 2019/2020 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). Three teams – Jota Sport, Jackie Chan DC Racing and High Class Racing – have chosen to race on Goodyear tyres in the LMP2 class. This will be the only WEC class to feature open tyre competition during the season opener at Silverstone. Goodyear sees this as the “perfect showcase” to benchmark its latest technology.
WEC regulations allow tyre manufacturers to supply teams with up to three dry-weather specifications for the season. Two specs come into play this weekend. The three teams will race at Silverstone with A (softest compound) and/or C (medium compound) specification tyres. Goodyear says both feature completely new constructions designed to offer “driveability and consistency” on this season’s eight WEC circuits.
“With races lasting between four and 24 hours, our focus was to develop a range that had the versatility and performance to cope with varying temperatures, stint length between pit-stops and cater for the needs of a wide range of driving styles,” comments Mike McGregor, Goodyear’s manager Race Sales, Testing & Track Support.
Soft/medium for first 3 rounds
The first three rounds (Silverstone, Shanghai and Fuji) take place in temperate climates. Goodyear’s initial focus will thus be to work with teams to optimise A- and C -spec tyres for their cars. It will then consider introducing the third specification at the Bahrain or São Paulo rounds.
Teams will take Silverstone’s new track surface into account. “Testing has shown that recent resurfacing has created a very high grip circuit that puts heavy loads through the tyres. We’ve also noticed the surface takes longer to ‘rubber in’ after rainfall which is one of the reasons we’ve chosen softer compounds to give drivers the confidence to push hard on new tyres after a pit-stop,” McGregor adds.
Due to the resurfacing, the FIA has relaxed the regulations. Teams are allowed an additional set of tyres during the event. Goodyear predicts this change will turn the four-hour race into a series of flat-out sprints between pit-stops, another reason it has chosen an aggressive tyre selection strategy.
New wet technologies
A summer race in England provides scope for unpacking the wet weather gear. Goodyear’s LMP2 wet tyre features a new tread pattern with curved grooves in the shoulder to dispel water at speed. It also has a large continuous centre rib for retaining stability and grip under heavy cornering loads. This design is inspired by Goodyear’s latest Eagle F1 SuperSport range.
The intermediate tyre features the same construction as the A-spec dry tyre to enhance grip when going from wet to dry conditions. This versatility allows the teams to optimise stint lengths between pit stops.
Goodyear tested at seven different circuits to experience a wide variety of wet conditions. In addition to testing at Silverstone, Donnington and Rockingham, Goodyear headed to Northern Ireland to Bishopscourt before testing at Portimão (Portugal), MotorLand (Spain) and Sebring (USA). “We’ve tested in wet conditions that have varied between 4ºC to 35ºC, giving us a deep understanding of what’s needed to win in the wet,” says McGregor.