The Black Gold of the FIA ETRC
Goodyear’s involvement in truck racing dates all the way back to 2003 when the famed manufacturer first provided truck racing tyres.
Its product was very close to the tyres dedicated for the road. "We first provided a ‘buffed’ version of a standard tyre. But being a premium manufacturer and innovative leader in the industry this was not enough. So we started a development program that included the creation of a special compound for better wet and dry grip and a special tread pattern. The result was a dedicated truck racing tyre," – says Benjamin Willot, Director Marketing Commercial Tires at Goodyear Europe, Middle East and Africa.
"Current tyres, as has always been the case, are built using Goodyear regular tyre casing incorporating our latest innovations and technologies. One of these innovations is our use of RFID tyre identity or ‘chip in tyre technology’ as it’s called, which we introduced in 2011. In transport industry this speeds up tyre identification for maintenance purposes and helps optimising transportation fleet operations," – he adds.
In racing the ‘chip in tire’ technology is used by the FIA officials to monitor all the tyres and ensure every team obeys the regulations regarding the number of allocated tyres.
Despite visual similarities, race trucks used in the FIA ETRC and its road-going counterparts are worlds apart. Race trucks are modified two axle tractor units with no trailer or load. A typical articulated truck you see on the road weighs 40 tonnes (with trailer and full load), has engine power of about 480 hp, torque of 2,300Nm and is limited to a top speed of 80 – 90 km/h.
A race truck has no trailer or load, weighs at least 5300 kg, has a power output well over 1000bhp and torque of 5,000Nm. The top speed in truck racing is restricted to 160 km/h. A race truck can accelerate from 0 – 100 km/h in about the same time as a Porsche 911. Therefore the demands on tyres are completely different in both cases.
The tyres that are in use today were developed specifically for truck racing. They are built on standard latest generation production 315/70R22.5 truck tyre casings, which impart very high robustness. The special tread layer and compound are based on Goodyear’s extensive motorsport experience. The tyres also feature a special tread sub-layer to prevent overheating and protect against damage and excessive wear.
"We had to look for a suitable pattern with the right compounds, that brought us the development of a two-layer tread, where we have a top part which is delivering the grip and the performance. Underneath we have a layer which has cool-running properties – it’s a kind of barrier between the top one and the casing, so to prevent excess heat going into the casing. This layer is also a very stable compound, so in case all the grip-delivering compound goes off, the driver still has sufficient time and sufficient potential to return to the pits," – explains Goodyear’s Dr Dan Roder who was involved in the development process of the tyres.
An asymmetric tread pattern ensures a high level of grip, both in wet and dry conditions, which is very important as only one tire type is used in the series. Having one universal type of tyre for all conditions helps keep costs at a reasonable level. "If you start having racing dry-weather tyres, rain tyres, intermediate tyres, you’ll triple the costs. The FIA wants to have one standard tyre for all conditions," – says Davide Califano, Director Marketing Activation, Commercial EMEA
In order to ensure that tyres are fairly distributed, a lottery is held prior to each race. In this way, nobody knows which team will get which tyres until they are drawn.
Extending the partnership
In 2016 the American brand signed an agreement with the FIA to be the official partner and tyre supplier of the FIA ETRC for three years.
"Our involvement in this unique sports gives us the opportunity to show the outstanding performance of our truck racing tyres, which are built on the same casings used in our regular truck tyres, as used by thousands of fleets across Europe. It also gives us the opportunity to meet truck enthusiasts and talk to them about our commitment to truck racing and the transport industry," – summarises Willot.
The Fan Village
Goodyear’s presence however is not only on the track. Based in the paddock, the FIA ETRC Fan Village features blue and yellow Goodyear flags and offers several attractions, including football table, slot car racing with model trucks as well as Goodyear product and services displays with truck tyre experts on hands to answer visitor’s questions.
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