Wednesday, June 19, 2024

BFGoodrich bringing new tyre to 2024 Dakar Rally

Drivers were not too pleased with BFGoodrich at the 2023 Dakar Rally in January as a plethora of tyre punctures ruined many races. Sébastien Loeb’s seven stage wins were basically for naught as three flats in Stage #2 (his fellow Prodrives Guerlain Chicherit, Orlando Terranova, and Vaidotas Žala all suffered the same fate) followed by yet another a day later eliminated him from overall contention before he could even hit his stride.

According to a report from SoyMotor.com, the tyre manufacturer will try to rectify any error for the 2024 Rally. Specifically, the report mentions, the new compound will be “slightly slower” than what is currently used but is more resistant to puncture.

BFGoodrich supplies the sand-specialised All-Terrain T/A KDR2+ tyre for Dakar competitors, which comes in sixteen- and seventeen-inch widths with aspect ratios of 245/80-16 and 37/12.5-17, respectively. The former is intended for all-wheel-drive vehicles whereas the latter is for two-wheel-drive. A mud-specific version, the Mud-Terrain T/A KM3, is also available. T3 and T4 cars race on the Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 SSV.

In May, Team Audi Sport conducted a debrief test in Saudi Arabia to evaluate what went wrong at Dakar. Most of the session focused on tyre failures, and Audi simulated racing conditions with two tyres of BFGoodriches. One such version was rather peculiar as Audi placed five kilograms of silicone over it; while it indeed made punctures less susceptible, it also severely slowed down the car with the increased weight. Incidentally, Audi’s racing return at last weekend’s Baja España Aragón saw Carlos Sainz suffer two downed tyres in the opening stage.

Ironically, used tyres from Dakar were donated by T1 driver Benediktas Vanagas to the Ukrainian military for use on their vehicles in the war against Russia due to their durability. Of course, military and civilian vehicles are subject to different rigours than race cars.

SoyMotor also reported at least one other tyre manufacturer hopes to enter the sport, hastening BFGoodrich’s decision to introduce a new compound for 2024. BFGoodrich has served as the Dakar Rally’s official tyre partner since the 2017 edition, and has won eighteen times since 1993.

The 2024 Dakar Rally begins on 5 January.

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