As with all the team sponsors Dunlop works closely with the Honda World Motocross squad for its marketing and tyre development programme, which gives access to the latest specification of tyre for Evgeny Bobryshev and Max Nagl to race with at the highest level.
Former SuperMoto champion Eddy Seel takes care of the operations at events, and coordinates everything from a race point of view for Dunlop. He is the connection between the team and the development squad back at Dunlop’s headquarters, whilst being heavily involved with making it happen week-by-week at the track.
“I’m the Dunlop MXGP race coordinator, which means I plan the tyres for each race, the fitment service, and all the logistics in order to ship the tyres to each country. I also coordinate the tyre performance feedback to our development team. It’s a busy job, but I like what I do.”
Dunlop’s operation in the paddock is an incredibly important part of the Honda World Motocross team, making it more simple as they take care of everything related to the tyres. In some countries the tyre manufacturer organises the local Dunlop subsidiary to arrange the fitment service, and in other countries Dunlop Europe takes its own truck and team. Eddy organises the tyres to be sent to those countries that have a fitment service locally that can support the race event and he also attends every race himself. For all of the tyre changes and preparation at a Grand Prix event, Dunlop is responsible.
Dunlop has officially supported the Honda World Motocross team over the last three years and it is an important, developing relationship, where both parties strive for the very best in performance. Since this partnership, Dunlop has become the original equipment on all Honda motocross bikes imported into Europe.
“The name Honda is for sure important for us to be involved with. The cooperation does not only cover motocross, but is also including the Honda TT Legends team in the World Endurance Championship, as well as the Isle of Man TT and other road races. This is very important for the development of track / road racing tyres, just as we do here in motocross. We’ve been back at the MXGP’s for three years and now the OEM tyre fitted to Honda’s motocross range is Dunlop, so this has been a big success.”
One of the important parts of the relationship is that the team and riders supply feedback on tyres used to their full potential on different types of terrain, which can then be modified or improved with the technical support from Dunlop. This development programme has been very extensive since the start of the project, but with the help of the Honda World Motocross team new tyres can be developed, which could soon become available on the market.
“The development has been intense, with a lot of tyres, but now we have narrowed the selection to a few good tyres with the feedback from the factory riders. We’ve tested many different structures, compounds and carcasses. The latest specification we developed in this season is the most used, so we know we are going in the right direction. Having found the basis of what we want to use to go forward, we continue to work hard on the fine tuning to create the ideal tyre. We launched the MX11 front last year, and this tyre comes from the work done with the factory team. The goal is to continue to improve this and cooperate closely with Honda’s riders to help our development.”
It’s been a tough season so far for the Honda World Motocross squad with results difficult to find due to rider injury, but the support and development from Dunlop’s side has continued at a very high level.
“Obviously we expect good results and we believe we can be regularly on the podium with Honda. The results have been affected by injuries in both riders this year, which is not easy, but I was a rider and I do understand. It’s motocross, and when the luck is down it can take a long time to make things right, but we are all working hard to find the results and to support Honda in this.”
There’s a huge amount of work done behind the scenes, with data being sent back to Dunlop after each event so the R&D department for Dunlop can take on-board the information if a quick turn around to change a tyre for the riders to test at the next race is necessary. Dunlop’s organisation is massive, and it’s this kind of focussed work with the team that is so attractive for Honda.
“It’s good that we’ve had this association with Dunlop. Obviously it’s pretty important because in America they use Dunlop, in Japan Honda uses Dunlop, and now for the last three years in Europe Honda has used Dunlop, which gives us consistency of information. Dunlop has given us good products and they’ve come up with different ideas, while working very, very hard over the last few years to give us great quality tyres,” said Honda Europe Off-road Manager, Roger Harvey.
“We also shouldn’t forget the Dunlop mousse, as it’s probably the best on the market, and that has also been good for us. It’s nice to have the association, which has now grown between Honda and Dunlop, as it’s so helpful to have a company working as hard as them. Of course one of the goals for Dunlop was to become the OEM material on Honda machines and we’ve managed to achieve that too,”concluded Harvey.
Honda has been known for its impressive image in the paddock, and as one of the powerhouses in the motorcycle industry it’s a good partnership to have one of the very best motorsport tyre manufacturers on board with the same vision and goals.