IMSA Spotlight: Kevin Fandozzi
Continental Tire IMSA Product Manager
Talk about the changes made to the Prototype tires this year…
“The new Prototype tires were completely developed around the IMSA’s new DPi/LMP2 chassis. This chassis combines excellent downforce and aero efficiency with significant power. As we looked back at the last generation, we had to make compromises that equalized the strengths and weaknesses of each platform, while providing a large operating window for drivers.
“For this car, we focused on the capability of the front tires to use the higher corner entry speeds from the increased downforce. We really improved a driver’s ability to attack turns by increased grip under combined braking and cornering.
“This way, the true ability of the car can be highlighted, and the driver’s performance and ability can shine. They will be less focused on managing the overall balance changes throughout a stint and can focus on racing as hard as possible. This new car is extremely responsive and capable. We’ve developed new constructions and compounds to match.”
There are many manufacturers in GTD. What are some of the factors you must take into account when developing a spec tire for a class like this?
“Each manufacturer’s homologation sets the car’s performance and size envelope. From our side, we design a tire that allows for both Front-engine and mid-engine configurations. We make sure that the mid-engine cars with less weight on nose have a tire that can come up to speed quickly, while giving the rear tire enough load capacity to handle the rear biased weight distribution.
“The tricky part is working to keep the tires working equally, so that the balance of the car can stay consistent throughout the stint. We do this by optimizing compounds and constructions to match what is being asked of the tire.”
What are the main differences between the two compounds Continental uses (Daytona vs. Road Course)?
“The main differences are between the Daytona tire and the Road Course tire is the belt package design. Most people believe that Daytona requires a tougher compound, but we’ve been able to use the same compound for all applications.
“The key to durability on the high banks of Daytona is to protect the shoulder of the tire, as the intense banking loads combine with aero downforce loads at high speed. These loads can be devastating to a typical tire, but we’ve developed a solution that works to optimize load integrity.”
Aside from tread, what are the differences between a rain tire and dry tire?
“A rain tire has tread to allow it to cut through water and force water out of the contact patch. But more importantly, it must have a softer construction and compound, as it works conform to changes in loading and surface in a more precise way.
“The overall grip is less, so the driver must be able to feel slight changes in adhesion and grip levels. A softer tire allows this feedback to happen more slowly, and allows the driver to feel the grip as conditions change.”
How did you get involved in racing?
“I was fortunate to find myself in many great automotive positions, around many great mentors. Starting as an engineer at GM, I found myself hanging around race tracks and working on cars with other engineers.
“Racing became the ultimate puzzle of experience, performance and engineering. I became addicted. It’s a ride that I’ve been on for a couple of decades, of keep coming back for the amazing experiences and people.”