Dunlop Soft Slick Removed From Race Tire Allocation on Sunday at Road America

Spec-tire supplier puts rider safety first at high-speed Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, racetrack

motoamerica superbike race action
Two-time and defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier puts Dunlop's new-construction 0455 rear slick to use during Sunday morning warm up at Road America.Brian J. Nelson

Dunlop brought two new rear slicks to Road America this past weekend for Round 4 of the MotoAmerica Series but withdrew the softer option from its allocation after that tire showed signs of overheating on Saturday afternoon in Superbike/Superstock 1000 Race 1.

The top three finishers in that 13-lap race—Cameron Beaubier, Toni Elias, and Roger Hayden—all used the softer tire, which is known internally as 0097 and replaces the previous 2662. Like the harder 0455, the difference is in its construction; compound is unchanged.

Beaubier turned the quickest lap of the race, a 2:13.116, on Lap 12. Elias ran the second-best lap (2:13.251, Lap 8), followed by Hayden (2:13.290, Lap 12). Josh Herrin was the only other rider in the 21-starter field to circulate the 4.05-mile course in the 2:13 range.

At Saturday's post-race press conference, Yoshimura Suzuki's Elias explained that the top riders were already well-acquainted with 0097. "It's nothing new," he said with a shrug. "We tested. More or less, we knew this tire. For sure, it's better."

VIDEO: Road America Superbike Saturday Race Highlights

“The grip doesn’t feel a ton different,” added two-time Superbike champ Beaubier. “Dunlop did a good job, though, and took away the ‘pumpy’ feeling that the old 2662 had.” Hayden agreed, “I think we’ll notice it more at tracks where we struggle with grip.”

Road America has traditionally been a soft-tire track, a Dunlop tech explained. Superstock 1000 machines generally have less electronic intervention than factory Superbikes and a top rider can beat up the tire more. Only one rider started Saturday’s race on the harder-option rear.

Both tires first appeared earlier this year during off-season testing at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Northern California. Their performance was validated this past March at Circuit of The Americas and again in May during a two-day test at Pittsburgh International Race Complex.

On Sunday morning at Road America, Superbike/Superstock 1000 warm up was extended from 15 to 30 minutes to give riders an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the performance of the 0455, as only a few had spent any time on that tire earlier in the weekend.

motoamerica superbike race action from road america
Beaubier and Toni Elias chase Roger Hayden in Race 1 on Saturday at Road America. All three riders used the soft-compound 0097 rear slick, which replaces the previous 2662.Brian J. Nelson

The session was “sticker free,” meaning the tires used during that practice didn’t count against the weekend allocation. During a “normal” doubleheader race weekend, each Superbike rider receives seven fronts and nine rears. By race time, track temperature was the highest of the weekend.

Elias won the initially shortened and then twice-red-flagged race. “First is safety and I understand,” he said. “For me, first practice on this tire was not good. I was slow compared to these guys. But today, we did 2:12s. That means, as a team, we did a great job.”

Beaubier, who was third in Sunday’s race, added, “I had a better feel with the harder-option tire this morning than I did on Friday because I was up to speed and the bike felt better under me. It felt like the soft when it takes its first step. I didn’t really have any big drops with it.”

“I hadn’t ridden that tire in a while,” Hayden admitted. “It is definitely not as good as the soft, but I actually went faster today—2:12.908—than yesterday. Track conditions were better, but hats off to Dunlop and MotoAmerica for putting safety first.”

Dunlop will bring both tires, as well as a one-step harder-compound option, the medium-plus 0585, to the fifth round of the series at Utah Motorsports Campus, June 23-25. Elias leads the Superbike points standings with 160, followed by Beaubier (146) and Hayden (140).

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