This weekend (August 18-19) sees Silverstone host the four and six hour races respectively in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) and FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
Unlike previous years, the back-to-back races will take place at the height of the British summer – a significant difference to the historic season-opening rounds which even saw snow in April 2016’s event.
The other significant change for Dunlop and the teams is the resurfaced track. Formula One drivers reported from July’s British Grand Prix that the new tarmac is much bumpier than before. Dunlop engineers will spend time closely looking at the new surface and working with teams to get the best tyre choice and set-up for each car and driver as usual.
The new surface is dark in colour which absorbs more heat and brings higher relative track temperatures compared to tracks such as Monza with paler more light-reflective surfacing.
Dunlop LMP2 customers and all ELMS GTE teams will have the A and B tyre options available. In contrast to Le Mans, the last outing for many of the teams, the Silverstone track has high left/right bias characteristics and has high energy levels. Race strategies now benefit from optimizing the use of the limited number of tyres available for each car and fans may well see teams opting to change tyres from left to right during pit-stops.
In the championships, Dunlop is facing significant competition in the LMP2 class, the only class featuring tyre wars in both championships. So far Dunlop teams have a clean sheet of LMP2 wins in the five ELMS and WEC 2018 races held so far, and have claimed 13 of the 15 podium places.
The all-Dunlop ELMS LMGTE class saw the points gaps close in the standings with just 16 points separating the top-five at the season mid-point. Proton Competition currently leads. ELMS’ overall leader is G-Drive Racing, while in WEC the LMP2 leader is currently Signatech Alpine Matmut.
The ELMS four hours of Silverstone starts at 14.30 BST on August 18.
The WEC six hours of Silverstone starts at 12:00 BST on August 19.
Mike McGregor, Dunlop manager testing & track support said, “We are expecting close competition again and it will be very interesting to get new data from the new Silverstone track surface. It will be more critical than ever for our engineers to get the set-up right and optimize the kinematics with the tyres and dampers. The weather at Silverstone could vary widely too, so there is plenty of work to do once we get to the track and our engineers resume work with the teams”.