It’s never one size fits all. The type of the race, each type of surface in each type of race, wet weather conditions in each of those races – there’s a tyre for each of these scenarios. MRF makes tyres for them all. Want a list? Formula-racing tyres for F3, F2000 and F1600 races, tyres for a variety of cars in sizes ranging 13 inches and higher, go-kart racing tyres, motocross racing tyres and super-sport motorcycle racing tyres for different types of bikes. Then there are high-performance rally tyres, gravel tyres in various patterns and off-road tyres for SUVs. These tyres play a major role in delivering a race-winning performance. Car engines can generate all the power in the world, but without the right set of tyres, that power will never get translated into actual on-road or on-track performance.
Steel, rubber and knowledge
Most don’t give much thought to tyres, but there’s a surprising amount of research, development and technology that goes into making them. How else do you imagine MRF tyres, like the Z.L.O., lasting for 35,000–40,000km without losing their performance over their lifetime? The know-how to make a tyre like the Z.L.O. first comes from the race track. MRF has been racing for decades. Motorsport is a way of life at MRF. So, it already had a head-start at making high-performance tyres. Over the years, MRF continued to build the knowledge it had about tyres through constant testing, research and development. From bias tyres in the early years, to steel-belted radials to the varied performance-focused tyres that race cars are shod with today, MRF tyres have come a very long way. Recently, though, MRF added another feather to its hat. It became the official tyre supplier for the VW Vento Cup in 2016. VW Motorsport chose MRF because of its experience and depth of racing-tyre knowledge. The VW Group already had a long working relationship with the company outside India, with factory-supported Skoda Fabias running on MRF tyres in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) since 2012. The team is a regular fixture on the podium at APRC rallies. This association combined with MRF’s prowess across varied forms in motorsport, made MRF’s selection an obvious choice.
Dropping the seconds
When asked how different was racing on MRF tyres, Vento Cup racers Ishaan Dodhiwala and Karminder Singh felt that it was the biggest change in the car. They mentioned an increase in the levels of lateral grip, increased confidence under braking, plus the fact that they were able to push the car harder. These points were also corroborated by Vento Cup first-timer Keith Desouza. MRF says that the major contributing factors to making a successful race tyre are construction and tyre compound. In rallies, the aforementioned two factors, plus tyre pattern play a major role in enhancing performance. But this was MRF’s first time at the Vento Cup. Despite making competitive tyres, MRF continued making efforts to improve its tyres. All three racers mentioned that MRF’s R&D team took inputs throughout the season. Factors like tyre wear, temperature, pressure and related changes over the weekend were recorded. The two rounds they raced at Chennai had the tyres experience temperatures up to 60deg C, but the tyres withstood everything. Each driver was provided an adequate number of tyres for a race weekend but one set could last two races at temperatures up to 60deg C! This without any significant reduction in performance. When they raced again at Coimbatore, Ishaan actually managed to beat his previous year’s time by a massive 3½ seconds! Karminder achieved a similar time too. This made them amongst the quickest on the race track. Ishaan said that he couldn’t praise MRF enough for the job it did with the race tyres. He believes that 75 percent of the improvement in performance came from the tyres alone. Karminder believes that MRF has done a spectacular job. He mentions that the grip these tyres provide, especially, mid-corner to the corner exit is “crazy”. Keith was surprised with the wet weather tyre. “I’ve never seen a wet tyre this great!”, he says. “Even when I pushed it, the car didn’t slide. The tyre didn’t degrade even when it started drying. It’s perfect.” High praise considering the cars underwent very little change. The tyres evolved. Sirish Vissa, Head, VW Motorsport said, “The tyres performed better than what we had expected, with very consistent performance over the entire life of the tyre. I was pleasantly surprised that we were able to do as many laps as we did with the tyres. I was also especially happy with the consistent grip levels of the wet weather tyre, which was why we were able to have such a clean race in wet conditions. Thank you and your team for all the support.“
The tyre you buy
MRF doesn’t just test tyres on the track. It even provides race drivers with Z.L.O. tyres for their street cars as part of a testing programme. The company takes regular feedback on these tyres too, and just like the race tyres, the MRF road tyres have evolved as well. MRF believes that continuous fine tuning of the existing product is a must to enhance performance. Every bit of feedback MRF receives from its race and rally drivers is continuously monitored and the components that contribute to enhancing performance are fed into the high-performance tyres. MRF learnt that straightline and cornering stability is a must for any high-performance tyre. Inputs like these are used to enhance tyres like the MRF Z.L.O. Another important point is that the Z.L.O. has the performance parameters of MRF race tyres built into it, but that’s not all. It has that performance plus the longevity of a road tyre as well. Like the race tyres don’t lose their performance characteristics over the length of a race, the MRF Z.L.O. doesn’t lose its performance over the 35,000–40,000km it is meant to run. Additionally, unlike race tyres that are specialised for specific weather conditions, the Z.L.O. has been designed to perform optimally under dry, damp and wet conditions. It even has an asymmetric tread pattern to improve cornering performance under all weather conditions and enable precise and responsive vehicle handling. Decades of evolution and knowledge from the track have been brought into the Z.L.O. so that everyone can experience cutting-edge performance. When MRF says, ‘The tyres we race are the tyres you buy”, it truly means it.