Continental Responds to Daytona GTD Tire Issues

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

Continental Tire has responded to inquiries from selected GT Daytona class teams after a series of tire-related concerns from last month’s rain-soaked Rolex 24 at Daytona, vowing to develop a new GTD wet tire in time for next year’s race.

Continental, the exclusive tire provider for three of the four IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship classes, issued a memo to GTD competitors on Thursday, outlining extensive post-race analysis it conducted and the contributing factors.

Ten out of the 27 GTD cars experienced an “unusually high rate” of wet tire fatigue, mainly during the cold and changeable night-time hours of the race.

“Continental Tire has always been tasked with providing a single wet tire compound and construction for each class which is suitable for all variety of cars, for all weather conditions, and at every track on the IMSA WeatherTech Championship schedule,” the memo says.

“As all are aware, a wet/dry track can be a worse case environment for a wet tire, therefore Continental Tire has always focused on developing a solution that’s robust to this abuse…

“However, when multiple teams have issues, it is a signal to use that we must thoroughly investigate the situation and if necessary look to increase the margin available in the tire.”

While the current GTD tire was run in wet conditions last year, it was not comparable to the loads, run time or changeable conditions teams faced at Daytona.

According to the memo, the root cause of the tire issues pointed to shoulder fatigue, largely due to under-inflated tires.

“Changing conditions made it difficult to set cold pressure and achieve hot pressure targets,” the document says. “While we recommend minimum hot pressures in our Roar Bulletin, it is not a straightforward process on how to achieve them.

“The pressure build is dependent on the track temperature and prevailing conditions, which changed drastically early in the race.”

Continental says that the teams not affected by any issues — the majority the class — protected their tires during low pressure windows, avoided curbing and utilized wet patches on the track to keep the tire from overheating.

The tire manufacturer also found that some teams were stockpiling right-rear tires in anticipation that the wet and changing conditions would continue throughout the race, which thought would lead to a potential tire shortage in the early morning hours.

While the GTD-spec tires are identical for both left and right sides, Continental has pledged to bring additional inventory of wet tires, for all classes, to future IMSA events.

Work, meanwhile, has already begun on a new GTD wet tire for 2018, which will result in increased load capacity and higher durability for Daytona and the entire season.

Continental will debut its new DPi/LMP2 dry tire at next month’s Twelve Hours of Sebring, in what’s been touted by a number of drivers as a “significant step forward” over the previous DP/P2-spec tire, which was often regarded as a compromise due to the drastically different platforms.

29 Comments

  1. Jeff Wagner

    February 16, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    IMSA can very easily eliminate this problem and open up the tire choice like in GTLM, the way it should have been for ALL CLASSES in the first place. It is the last remaining “bastard” from one of the two merged series force fed to the 95% of total Sportscar Racing fans from the other series. A Continental Tire has never been triple stinted and lap times were still on the pace. Continental would be forced to get A LOT better much quicker with competition.

    • Larry

      February 16, 2017 at 7:47 pm

      Amen.

      There is a reason that all the GTLM teams CHOOSE to run Michelins.

      🙂

      • Charles

        February 16, 2017 at 11:57 pm

        Yeah maybe because the Michelin tire is the same tire as the WEC. Which mean familiarity for Le Mans.

        • Larry

          February 17, 2017 at 7:19 am

          Well gee, they still choose it in WEC and my point still stands.

          Also, no pro teams anywhere that have a choice choose Continentals. There’s a reason for that.

          And from personal experience, Continental is one of the worse performance street tires.

          • Andy Flinn

            February 17, 2017 at 12:21 pm

            Larry, I have Continentals on my 2016 VW Sportwagen as standard equipment. After 13,000 miles I’ve had no issues here in the Southwest Florida rain and sunshine. They’re quiet, comfortable and perform just fine. They’re also significantly more affordable than the Michelin option. They’re definitely better than the run flats and Bridgestone replacements on my ’02 Mini Cooper S “boneshaker.” (I know part of that is due to the Mini suspension.)

            As far as Daytona goes, in ’79 Pozzi and NART had to withdraw all three of their Ferraris during the 24-hour due to Michelin tire failures on the banking. So it happens to the best of them.

            Continental will solve the problem, develop a replacement GTD tire and move on.

          • tracer

            February 19, 2017 at 4:35 pm

            One of the wors(t) performance street tires? To each their own, but I’ve tried them all and the extremecontact dw is the only tire I’ll put on my e46 m3 for a high performance/mixed track duty use.

          • Harry Manback

            February 20, 2017 at 5:01 pm

            I agree with Larry – I had Michelins on my ’13 ATS, and the only thing I didn’t like about them was replacing them, but you get what you pay for, so it was what it was. When I upgraded to an ATS Coupe, it came with Continentals that were “specifically engineered for the car” {or so I was told my by salesman when I complained about not having Michelins before even putting a single mile on the car before taking delivery} – I want my Michelins back. The Continentals are significantly louder, harsher ride, and don’t seem to offer any performance gain on dry conditions, and are squarely-er on the track. The only positive I’ve found is that the Coupe is very planted and stable in the upstate NY snow compared to the Sedan…. but that could just be the more rigid chassis rather than the tires. When I took the car in for its first “check-up”, my service advisor asked if I had any complaints, and I just “just one-” and he cut me off and asked “the Continentals?
            and when I said yep, he said everyone has had the same gripe.

          • graham

            March 14, 2017 at 5:26 pm

            Charles – What has runnin’ the season in IMSA got to do with Le Mans? if you’re not invited, your not invited.

            Andy, tracer, and Harry – What, in heavens name, do street tires have to do with race tires? Now back when Goodrich shaved some street tires and went racing….. 😉

    • B8

      February 16, 2017 at 8:39 pm

      While your heart is in the right place, this is also somewhat ignorant. Yes, the tires should be better, but open tire choice is a bad idea. Makes BOP a nightmare to get right. And unfortunately BOP is something that has to stick around as much as everyone would like to get rid of it.

      • daedalus

        February 16, 2017 at 9:11 pm

        you can do BOP fine even with different tyres, you just have to make sure that all cars run the same tyres during the BOP test days run by the sanctioning body and its test drivers like the FIA does with all GT3 cars in france each year. Unfortunately IMSA does not do this relying on the teams and their own drivers which just means you get a corrupted picture due to sandbagging like the caddys did at daytona.

      • Guest

        February 17, 2017 at 12:03 am

        It’s absolutely fine in VLN and Super GT. You’re conflating two separate issues here. Open tires do not prohibit BOP, the BOP is set to the car not individually to every possible setup.

        • Susafan

          February 17, 2017 at 6:15 am

          Vln BoP os usually a mess (same for the N24)

          But that’s also because the ADAC ensures only german products are competitive…

          • EH

            February 17, 2017 at 1:53 pm

            You made the same baseless accusation over at Racer and cited the Dörr McLarens in 2014 which ran trouble free for 4 laps and both finished the race not classified. The V12 vantage is not a good racecar and the Bentley has been totally respectable. There are only a handful of non-German GT3 cars to have won any significant endurance race.

    • Mike S.

      February 17, 2017 at 10:38 am

      Yeah would mean just like Larry is saying. 95% would be running Michelin’s. Maybe a Dunlop sprinkled in there or 2.

  2. kevlow

    February 17, 2017 at 7:08 am

    I think the issue here is money. Conti pays a lot of money to IMSA to be the sole tire supplier. I only a fan so I do not know the arrangements of the agreement. Possibly someone here in the forum knows the details.

    I don’t think IMSA would risk losing a sponsor unless they were guaranteed of increasing their revenue streams with long term security.

    Any series that sells the right to being a sole supplier of anything secures an income for that set amount of years.

    I do not believe this is a competition decision but rather a business model about money.

    Much like stadiums selling soft drink and beer rights and sports franchises selling shoe and apparel rights.

    • kevlow

      February 17, 2017 at 7:09 am

      edit: I am only

  3. WBrowning

    February 17, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Just asking, was that the coldest, wet 24 ever? Everyone seemed to be complaining more about the temperature than the rain. The prototype rains seemed to take forever to get up to temp. even used tires after yellow flag periods. Conti needs to steal some Michelins and do some reverse engineering on their rain tires. The GTLMs had a definite advantage over the prototypes on restarts.

  4. LM Mike

    February 17, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Continental moving the performance of their tires forward. Comparing the tire performance from 2014 to now it’s a step in the right direction. Yes is the best tire manufacturer on the market now but they benefited from little competition over the last 20 years in sports car racing. And when tires manufacturers invest the time energy and money, they was successful against Michelin look no further than Dunlap. With time Continental Tire can rival Michelin.

    • Jeff Wagner

      February 17, 2017 at 2:38 pm

      Dunlop did a FANTASTIC job in the ALMS with Intersport. It’s amazing what manufacturers can do when pushed by competition, and that was because they had no choice running against Michelin to up their game. Continental is still a tire the teams would NOT run unless FORCED, not by IMSA but the owner of the series (I know the same, but I’m trying to hold IMSA at a higher level). This is all caused by Continental having no competition to FORCE them to get their act together. They have had 15+ years (Pre-merger/Post-merger)to do so. They haven’t HAD TO without competition to make it PAINFULLY OBVIOUS to the average fan how little gains they have made. When something like Daytona happens everybody in the series plays politics like it is a one off and uses it as an opportunity to call them out in the media and FORCE them to actually make their tires better. It’s the only way it will happen. Like I said before, has anybody EVER seen a Continental TRIPLE stinted and had the same pace on the third stint? It’s nice to see we all agree. The owner of the series just needs to LISTEN to the FANS. Just because their racing has had one tire since “Tim Flock”, and “Tiny Lund” doesn’t mean Sportscar Racing fans want it. We have evolved past bias-ply tires, leaded fuel, and the carburator, we call it technology and happily embrace it. One of the MANY things I miss about the ALMS was the different tire manufacturers and how well they raced against Michelin. Goodyear on Team Corvette (’99-00ish), Dunlop doing a great job with Intersport, Pirelli doing a great job with Risi (earlier on). It was another exciting battle to watch during the weekend!

  5. Mike S.

    February 17, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    Yeah I want Conti to have a chance and they are getting a fair shake eliminating one factor in the racing. I just don’t want to see tire warmers or ovens. Costly to haul and purchase. D24 was a cold wet one. Most of the rest of the season will be warmer and maybe wet is all. Michelin and Conti both said that they gave spec air pressures to teams and the teams in the realm of trying to build heat and pressures could and some probably did push the envelope spec air pressures (reduce the pressures) outside the relative companies specs.

    • Jeff Wagner

      February 17, 2017 at 2:42 pm

      Possibly, but the Michelin’s didn’t chunk apart and wear way too soon. They also weren’t sliding off the track with top drivers going as easy as possible for the first 2 laps.

    • Jeff Wagner

      February 17, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      Mike S. you are 100% correct about tire warmers. They shouldn’t be allowed in ANY series. They are an extra expense for no reason, but most importantly they eliminate yet another exciting way a driver can show they have ABOVE average ability. It’s great to see the top drivers much quicker than the average drivers after pit stops on cold tires. It’s just another exciting thing to appreciate and allow them to show why they are that much better. Racing needs to STOP leveling out the playing field for the ONLY average drivers, too much aero downforce and not enough power has done that enough!

  6. Larry

    February 17, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    Apparently no reply is allowed to Andys remark, I will do it here.

    Maybe you don’t drive you car as spirited as some others but I can tell you that Contis on my Porsche were total crap especially in the rain and that was just 2 years ago, brand new tires.

    And bringing up Michelin tire failure in 1979 is just plain dumb and irrelevant.

    You can defend Conti all you want. They ARE cheaper but there’s a reason for that.

    Again, not one GTLM team or any WEC team has chosen to run Contis and no pro team anywhere that has a choice picks them.

    So Andy, you can have all your fun with your wagon, but for real performance, I will pay the extra to get the Michelins that cost more for a reason.

    I had Contis on my Cayenne as well and it now has Bridgestone Duelers and to say that Contis are better is a joke. I bring up my Cayenne because it would use similar tires to your VW.

    Do you have some financial stake in Conti? Do you sell them?

    • Jeff Wagner

      February 18, 2017 at 2:33 pm

      His thread was locked as everybody knows he is a bitter Grand-Am zealot and misses watching DP’s with 5 other fans at some roval. He is a troll and people like him that can’t think for themselves are not welcome in Sportscar Racing. Imagine what kind of driver he is on the street the fact he says the Continental tires on his vehicle are good.

    • Jeff Wagner

      February 18, 2017 at 2:36 pm

      Or the fact they have a brand called “General Tire”.

    • Andy Flinn

      February 18, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      Larry, IMSA has two tire partners – Michelin for GTLM and Continental for every other class. Many other series – including Indy Car, PWC, NASCAR, IMSA Patron GT3 Challenge and even Formula One – have a similar spec tire.

      Get used to it. That won’t change any time soon.

      I mentioned Michelin in ’79 to illustrate the point that other tire manufacturers have had challenges at Daytona. I’m sorry you thought it was stupid.

      Before IMSA had Continental’s/Hoosier’s spec tire, Grand-Am had Pirelli’s spec tire, Hoosier’s spec tire, and Goodyear and Dunlop’s (depending on the Grand-Am classes) spec tires. So the sports car spec tire goes back at least 15 years. The Michelins in GTLM was a compromise for the merger.

      As far as Continental goes, no I don’t work for them. I’ve been accused of working for Grand-Am, ISC and NASCAR, too. No, I’m no insider, just a fan of IMSA for 40 years. That’s why I post using my real name. However, Travis and I did graduate from high school together, but that was almost 30 years ago. I doubt Continental’s Mr. Roffler even remembers who I am. Continental did give me a free hat at the Rolex24. So that makes me feel special.

      • Jeff Wagner

        February 18, 2017 at 11:14 pm

        As per usual Andy Flinn goes right into his precious Grand-Am comparisons, no worse than going on the INDYCAR website comparing the IRL to INDYCAR. 40 years as a fan, so get your facts straight about GTLM and the fact every team runs on Michelin because they choose to run the best. You have been corrected by me and others countless times about the following fact: GTLM is a class with an open tire choice. I Thank-You for 40 years of Sportscar Racing support, but it doesn’t excuse you intentionally being obnoxious or regularly misrepresenting the facts. Don’t think I have a point… Why do you think the site froze the reply button on your first comments? We all welcome opinions but get over the merger, your precious Grand-Am had to buy out the INTERNATIONALLY regarded better series in the ALMS, (Regardless a merger HAD to happen), your DP’s running around on ROVALS are no more, so be accurate with information, you’re speaking to knowledgeable fans. We are all a family again post merger, but you keep trying hard to get kicked out of it(per say). Did you notice I didn’t jump on your NART Michelin example like some did? It was something I didn’t know and I want to learn things like that from you. Can we PLEASE put DP’s and Grand-Am in the rear view mirror. It’s a nightmare that needs to be forgotten. 2017 is one of the most exciting seasons and the start of something GREAT, like 1999 was!!!

        • graham

          March 14, 2017 at 5:55 pm

          Well said, Jeff. 🙂

  7. EricJ

    February 18, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Hoosier, who Conti just bought, makes all Conti race tires. Comparing street tires to race tires is an apples to elephants comparison.
    Conti/IMSA didn’t have an intermediate tire, which is what was needed for Daytona this year. The Hoosier H2O wet, which is probably close to the IMSA wet, is a very good full wet tire. But it doesn’t work in either cold or intermediate conditions, which was this year’s Daytona.

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