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The science of tyre testing

3 years ago

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Dan Prosser | Ti co-founder


9 April 2021

The most inane assignments that have landed on my desk in 13 years in this line of work have unquestionably been tyre launches. I’ve been packed away on a handful of them, each time with a different tyre manufacturer, but they’re always pulled from the same playbook: Michelin, Pirelli, Dunlop, Continental and the rest all know tyres are not at all glamorous. So they put on fantastically lavish events to make up for it.

We’ll be flown somewhere sunny. The hotel will be opulent, the food and wine first-rate, both a race track and a sinuous road route will be made available to us, there’ll be fast cars and, without fail, utterly pointless gifts. I’ve been served Michelin-starred food (no points for guessing by whom…) and, rather than walk or drive the arduous two-mile peregrination from our golf resort hotel to Estoril circuit in Portugal, been flown by helicopter. On one event in southern California I was introduced to Keanu Reeves (who later apologised for holding us all up during the ducks-and-drakes high-speed driving session at The Thermal Club raceway near Palm Springs).

So they can be quite grand affairs, tyre launches. But they’re also completely pointless. You can drive on whatever vulcanised rubber doughnut is being launched that week for as long as you like on road and track, but all you will ever be able to ascertain is that the new tyre is round, it generates an amount of friction against a road surface and it’s capable of retaining pressurised air at least for a few hours.

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