New Buffalo-built rubber offered measurably improved performance for entry-level spec class at New Jersey Motorsports Park
Dunlop completed its “spec-tire circle” at New Jersey Motorsports Park, replacing the Alpha 13 previously employed in the KTM RC Cup with a new Sportmax Q3+. Like the other DOT-approved rubber and slicks used in the MotoAmerica Series, the tire is manufactured in Buffalo, New York.
When MotoAmerica created the RC Cup for its inaugural season in 2015, tire partner Dunlop elected to use the Alpha 13 in part because it was available in the 110/70-17 front and 150/60-17 rear sizes that fit the standard RC 390 wheels competitors are required to use.
That tire was later upgraded. “We asked Japan for a racier tire, and they brought out the Alpha 13 SP,” said Dunlop Technician Tom Grolemund. “But we wanted to take it to the next step and give these guys and girls an even more track-worthy tire.”
Production costs and logistics were also important considerations. “We wanted more control over our inventory,” Grolemund explained. “In Buffalo, we can make tires and get them to the track in a week or two. If we order from Japan, we have much longer lead times.”
Quicker turn-in response is one of the features of the new front Q3+. “A lot of street tires have a single-radius profile,” he said. “This tire has a steeper profile and wants to drop into corners. The rear is the same, more of a true high-performance tire.
“They are designed to have maximum grip at lean angle, as opposed to something that is more progressive, like a street tire. We wanted to get it out here at New Jersey to let the kids know we are just as committed to this class as we are to the other classes.”
In fact, the riders were impressed with the new tire. “The new Dunlop is leaps and bounds better than the old Dunlop,” said Sean Ungvarsky, who finished third on Saturday in KTM RC Cup Race 1. “It rides better, and the way it’s shaped makes the bike handle a lot better.
“That taller [front] profile makes it want to fall into the turn. When you’re driving and [the rear] starts to spin, it’s a very consistent spin. The old one felt like it wanted to let go. It’s a way better tire; you can trust it more. You can push harder on it, and it will reward you.”
Second-place-finisher Cory Ventura added, “I agree. It is an improvement from the last tire. It definitely has more grip and a lot of consistency.” Fresh off his third consecutive win, Alex Dumas said, “I like the new shape, especially the rear. It has a lot of grip.”
Of course, lap times are the ultimate arbiter. “Some of the guys were struggling early on,” Grolemund admitted, “but Saturday’s race was 37 seconds quicker than last year [Sunday’s 13-lapper was 36 seconds quicker than Race 2 at NJMP in 2016]. That’s almost three seconds per lap.”