MotoAmerica Riders Conclude Tire Test At Thunderhill

Dunlop brings a host of tires to the table, but Mother Nature cuts it down to a day

MotoAmerica Dunlop Tire Test Josh Hayes
Cameron Beaubier's Monster Energy Graves Yamaha teammate Josh Hayes talks tires with Dunlop development engineer Tom Grolman during a two-day test at Thunderhill Raceway. Photo Courtesy of MotoAmerica

For some of the MotoAmerica riders, the new year started a bit early as Dunlop hosted a tire test on December 9-10 at Thunderhill Raceway Park. Dunlop went all out, bringing 400 tires for those present in the Superbike/Superstock 1000 and Supersport classes, with 12 different spec fronts and 14 different spec rears.

It was just unfortunate that Mother Nature didn’t quite cooperate and the originally scheduled two-day test at the Northern-California circuit was shortened by heavy rain on Wednesday leaving a jam-packed Thursday in cold, but dry conditions.

"Overall we didn't get everything we wanted done," said Dunlop's Tony Romo. "But we found a better direction on the front (tire) and some rear compounds. We didn't get to the Qs (qualifying tires), but we will do that the next time here in January."

On hand to test the new sets of rubber was Monster Energy Graves Yamaha's Cameron Beaubier and Josh Hayes; Yoshimura Suzuki's Roger Hayden and Jake Lewis; Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha's JD Beach and Garrett Gerloff; Meen Motorsports' Josh Herrin and Joe Roberts; Westby Yamalube Racing's Josh Day; Dunlop's Benny Solis; and Tuned Racing's Bryce Prince.

One of the four MotoAmerica-Superbike riders at the test, local boy and reigning Superbike champ Beaubier was hoping for more time, but was happy to see the effort Dunlop made to provide so many options for testing.

"It was a bummer that we missed the first day just because we had a lot of stuff to go through on our side and on Dunlop's side," Beaubier said. "But we got through quite a bit today. We just went out for a lot of short stints and we didn't really do any more than string five or six laps together. We were trying new tires, a few things on our side. It's pretty cool that Dunlop is making a big push to elevate their tire game. I'm looking forward to what's to come. We didn't get to try some of the softer tires that they brought, which is kind of a bummer, but we got to try a couple of updated versions of the tire we've been racing on and so far it's going pretty good."

With the cold temperatures and limited time to test so many tires, lap times weren’t paramount for Beaubier at this early stage.

"We weren't really going for great times and we didn't really put up any great ones," Beaubier said. "We're still probably a second and a half off what I did here last year even with how much better the bike has gotten now. With the rain and the cold track temperatures it really wasn't a great day to go wring your neck out for a great time. “But we got some good track time in and it was good. We knocked off some of the dust since I hadn't ridden since New Jersey. I'm looking forward to getting out here next month."

Fellow Yamaha rider Gerloff made his way through the majority of the Supersport-spec-slick stack for Dunlop and by mid-afternoon and found a front tire to his liking. The young Texan, like Beaubier, was hoping for more testing time but was happy to be back riding.

"Originally, the plan was to test all the tires yesterday and work on bike setup today, but since yesterday was all rained out we've really had to cram all the tires in at once," the young Texan said. "I don't think we're going to be able to get too far into bike setup before it gets dark. Dunlop's been working really hard since the last race in New Jersey to make some new tires and right now I really like one of the front tires. I'm still trying to find a rear tire that I enjoy and that works well for me, but we're making progress and it feels good to be back on a bike again. I haven't ridden in awhile."