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.