Sporting way to better tyres

  • Rajesh Pansare, Hindustan Times, SAKHIR (BAHRAIN)
  • |
  • Updated: Nov 30, 2013 01:14 IST

From the rear-view mirror to the state-of-the-art transmission, racing technology has influenced production of cars.

Another important component is the tyre. The black rubber may seem like an afterthought amid the plethora of high-tech innovations, but they are crucial to the overall performance. Remember the grooves in your tyres? They are the result of innovations on the track.

Testing ground

No wonder all major manufacturers use motorsport as a testing ground for new compounds or technology they plan to introduce. So, when Formula One drivers complained about the Pirelli tyres, the company wasn’t perturbed. They knew that inputs would be crucial in the development of their on-road product.

At the MRF Challenge, one can see the same process, though not as high-tech as in Formula One, but significant, nonetheless.

The man in-charge of the process is TN Sundar, senior manager (development). “I inspect every tyre after practice, qualifying and each race. I speak to the drivers, engineers and mechanics for feedback. We look whether it’s wearing out fast or how long it has lasted,” he said.

What’s the next step? The data collected is sent to the R&D section and is put through a rigorous test session using sophisticated software. The laboratory tests and data collected during race days are integrated to produce the best tyres.

Another advantage for manufacturers is the different conditions to test the tyres. “Motorsport is an opportunity to learn from the data you collect as each track will behave differently. The tyres will behave differently and the racing conditions are different,” said Arun Mammen, MD, MRF. 

“It’s a never-ending process. Tyre technology doesn’t end and stop here. It’s an ongoing process. It’s like drivers always asking for an extra half a second. Come back next year and they might ask for something else. Extra is constant,” he added, when asked how many hours of R&D went into developing a particular type of tyre.

It doesn’t end here. They have to cater to different specifications from different manufacturers.

According to the website of a leading manufacturer, close to 200 materials are used to produce a car tyre. So, the next time you kick it in frustration, keep in mind the research that goes into making one.

The writer’s trip is sponsored by MRF.


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