Yokohama has ruled the roost in the BTCC tyre war since Robb Gravett’s dominant 1990 season, but finished this year having to share the nest with both Dunlop and Michelin.
Concentrating its development with Ecurie Ecosse, Dunlop was able to lay to rest its old bogey – the inability to last a full race distance – and a stiffer sidewall allowed David Leslie to string four or five quick laps together in practice while his rivals were generally limited to one or two on qualifiers.
Michelin entered the fray with Peugeot and Renault, but despite a win for the latter in monsoon conditions at Donington – they were untouchable in the wet – it was not until Ford switched from Yokohama to its product that the French tyre’s true potential in the dry was revealed.
In response, Yokohama stepped up its development towards the end of the year with a host of compound and construction derivatives, but ended the season with a bloody nose.
Dunlop and Michelin, both of which had a taller profile than the Yokohama, appeared to provide a more progressive grip than the once dominant product. And the Yoko runners felt the tyre’s propensity to grip, release and grip again, was one of the contributing causes to hop. They also felt the tyre was better in warmer condition, something which was in short supply this year.
In a recent test the works Cavaliers went quicker on Dunlops than on their usual Yokos, and it will be interesting to see how many teams switch before next season.
It must not be forgotten, however, that Yokohama did provide the championship winning product for the third year in succession.
Bloodied, but unbowed.
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