Racing Team Nederland will make a decision on its tire supply for the 2019-20 FIA World Endurance Championship after the Prologue, according to team manager Mark Koense.
The Dutch squad ran on Dunlop and Michelin tires during the first day of pre-season testing at Circuit de Catalunya but opted for Michelin only on day two.
However, Koense iterated that no decision has been made on whether the team sticks with Michelin or transitions to Goodyear, which is replacing Dunlop in the LMP2 class.
Four teams have tested Goodyear tires in Spain, while Racing Team Nederland – which has formed a partnership with long-time Dunlop client TDS Racing – is the only one not to have firmed up its choice for the season.
“The team [TDS] has a lot of experience with Dunlop, so the big point here is to make sure that we gain as much experience as possible with Michelin, so we can make a decision,” Koense told Sportscar365.
“We had to make a decision last night about what we’re going to do today [Wednesday] because of the tire fitting process.”
Koense suggested that a decision on Racing Team Nederland’s tire preference will be made in the coming days, with the Silverstone season-opener fast approaching.
When asked about when a decision is likely to be reached, he said, “before Silverstone, but it doesn’t work like that.”
“That’s the rule, but the reality is that a manufacturer will not say ‘yes, let’s do an extra car’ because of the logistics after Silverstone – everything will start moving around the world. That includes tires.
“So it’s going to be an interesting few hours and next few days to make that decision.
“While you can effectively choose rather shortly before the race, the manufacturer for all the logical reasons needs that decision a little bit earlier so they can prepare and deliver.
“You have the influence of the team, the feedback from the tire manufacturers, and the drivers. But if we have a lot of feedback, we have a lot of things to consider.”
New Oreca Chassis “In a Different League”
Koense said that the team has been pleased with its new Oreca chassis and that it performs well on both brands of tire, according to feedback from drivers.
Nyck de Vries, Giedo van der Garde and team patron Frits van Erd will again drive for Nederland this season, while Job van Uitert will joint the team for two races.
“When we switched from Dunlop to Michelin [for 2018] and we were not with TDS, it really had a big impact on the Dallara,” said Koense.
“The Dallara is a very difficult car, so for sure Frits felt more comfortable with it on Michelin tires. The Dallara seems to be a little less critical on the Michelin tires.
“Regardless of the tire that is on it, the Oreca is in a different league. That gives a lot of confidence to people like Frits, who are less experienced than people like Nyck or Giedo.
“The window of the Dallara in which it was working was extremely small, and most importantly it was very changeable from one session to another. If you are fighting that all the time, it is very hard to make progress.
“Plus we’re with a team which knows the Oreca package inside-out, which is the primary reason to go with them.
“Otherwise, we would have to find out three years of knowledge about the car in six weeks. It would have been impossible.”