There was no rest for the weary in the MotoAmerica paddock as two days after the series finale at Barber Motorsports Park many of the top racers were back to work for the one-day Dunlop Tire test on Tuesday.
In all there were 18 riders taking part in two sessions – Superbike/Supersport sessions (an hour and a half in the morning and two hours and 50 minutes in the afternoon); Junior Cup/Twins Cup sessions (hour and 20 minutes in the morning and an hour in the afternoon) – on a mostly sunny Tuesday.
The test, hosted by Dunlop, was to evaluate the newest Superbike/Supersport slicks while also giving the Junior Cup riders an opportunity to run slicks for the first time. The Liqui Moly Junior Cup class will use the non-treaded tires for the first time in 2019.
“For Superbike we had seven different variations of the tire,” Dunlop’s Tony Romo said. “That would be construction or different compounds or a different formulation of the same compound. Just trying to get the drop off that the riders have commented on that happens after about lap five or seven… we’re trying to extend that. And we’re trying to make it less severe. We have a couple of formulations of the same compound and then we have a few construction changes as well. The sizes have all stayed the same for Superbike and we’re trying to get ahead of it because they weren’t happy this year when we came up with a new size mid-season. Some teams didn’t have the resources to get their setup mid-season and they struggled. We want to come out next season with what we need and avoid a mid-season change.
“The other big thing we have here is the slicks for the Junior Cup bikes and that was a big thing for us. That came at the request of MotoAmerica and Wayne Rainey. Wayne really wanted to see some slicks and we got right in and started developing those early and this is the first time we’ve had a chance to put them on after a race weekend. Back to back they are worth about a second, second a half faster than our Q3 Plus so things are looking good there.”
Among the Superbike testers was newly crowned three-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier, the Californian having finished second to Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias in Sunday’s season finale. Beaubier ended up second on the day to the Spaniard with his time of 1:25.168.
Elias lapped at a best of 1:24.921 late in the afternoon session, which was better than his best lap from the two races on the weekend.
“We left the bike exactly the same as it rolled off the track on Sunday,” Beaubier said after stopping his test at the lunch break. “We just wanted to run through some tires that Dunlop had for us. There were a couple of variations that we tried this off-season at Thunderhill (Raceway), which I was excited to try but they didn’t really work here at this track. We tried a couple of variations of the hardest option we had in the allotment this weekend, a couple of variations of that, and I actually liked a couple of them. I ended up going my fastest, I did a 25.1 on the harder option tire, and we weren’t even close to that on the older harder option tire here this weekend. It was a good step in the right direction. We kept it short and they look like they (Dunlop) are going in the right direction. We didn’t try any softer options and I don’t know if anyone else did. All in all, it was good.”
As for Elias, he was a workhorse on the day, completing close to 85 laps.
“We did this morning only for Dunlop,” Elias said. “We test many things and in, my opinion, nothing is better than what we have this weekend for the race, but we test seven or eight tires. In all of this, there were little things that were very positive to maybe introduce to the new tire so that would make a faster tire. It’s been good for the information, but when I test tires I be very careful. Start two seconds, 1.5 seconds, one second at the end if everything is clear and good push a little bit more, but not at the limit. Enough to give information and I hope to be productive to help them build the next years tires.”
The tire test also gave many riders the chance to try other bikes: Four-time Superbike Champion Josh Hayes rode the Yamalube/Westby Racing Yamaha; JD Beach was aboard Jason Aguilar’s Rickdiculous Yamaha R6 for the test; and Valentin Debise spun some laps on Jake Lewis’ M4 ECSTAR Suzuki.
Junior Cup/Twins Cup
- Chris Parrish (Yamaha) 1:34.775
- Cory Ventura (Yamaha) 1:38.091
- Taylor Knapp (Kawasaki) 1:38.957
- Gauge Rees (Yamaha) 1:39.978
- Sean Ungvarsky (KTM) 1:40.551
- Toni Elias (Suzuki) 1:24.921
- Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha) 1:25.168
- Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha) 1:25.587
- Mathew Scholtz (Yamaha) 1:25.630
- Jake Lewis (Suzuki) 1:26.599
- Hayden Gillim (Yamaha) 1:27.797
- Valentin Debise (Suzuki) 1:28.403
- Nick McFadden (Suzuki) 1:28.985
- JD Beach (Yamaha) 1:29.088
- Sean Kelly (Suzuki) 1:30.189