Following our article on Pirelli hillclimb tyres we have been in touch with Paul Nicholls of BMTR who has shared some thoughts with us. BMTR & Avon Tyres shouldn’t need much of an introduction as they have been the key supplier to British Hillclimb Championship for 30 years and are well known in the paddock.
Will BMTR be providing a tyre service operation this season?
Yes, our commitment is to help as many Avon Tyres Motorsport customers as possible by providing a free fitting & balancing service at every round. On the whole I think that the service is valued by those who use it, and I would urge those competitors that have never used it to please swing by to say hello, we’re a friendly bunch! A fitting service is also offered from our base in Perry Barr and the factory in Melksham are on hand to help competitors who need tyres fitting before events.
We as a dealer are very lucky to have a great relationship with the factory. They also have a fantastic team of staff who are always on hand for extra advice and ideas. The factory have committed to supplying technical engineering support at every British round this season, so please take advantage of this service.
What has Avon’s response been to Pirelli supplying hillclimb tyres into the UK?
The response from the factory is very positive. I know the engineers at the factory are excited by the opportunity to push development and drive tyre performance forward and they welcome the competition. I think there is also a sense of patriotism, as the only British manufacturer of Racing tyres left, Avon are keen to defend their own patch so to speak. There are however some concerns that a potential tyre war will increase the cost for competitors. Overall it’s safe to say BMTR and Avon Tyres appreciate the opportunity that Pirelli provides; this allows us to publicly compare our Hillclimb products to a well know rival and demonstrate our technical capability.
How do you feel the new Pirelli tyres compare to the Avons?
There has been a lot of hearsay about this very question and so we wanted to answer this once and for all ourselves. We conducted a test in February to specifically back to back the existing Avon product with the new Pirelli Ultrasoft. Crucially the test compared new Avon’s against new Pirelli’s as this is the only way to get a fair comparison between products and to our knowledge this had not been done by anyone previously. The results of this test clearly showed the existing Avon products are at least as fast as the Pirelli Ultrasoft. Following this initial test we arranged a second validation test with a different car & driver and the results were almost identical. We are extremely confident the existing Avon range is competitive when compared to the new kid on the block.
Just for clarity, we tweaked two compounds last year, very slightly but the results were that the compounds reacted just as they had before, so the similarity is A15/594 (Soft) and A92/592 (Ultrasoft).
Are there any tyre developments or new products planned for 2019
Yes. Avon have been involved in an extensive development programme in Europe for the last few seasons, tyre competition is fierce there but ultimately the results on the hills do the talking. In 2018 the outright winners of the FIA European Hillclimb Championship, FIA Masters Hillclimb Championship, and several national Championships including the Italian and French were all won on Avon rubber.
The factory has now turned their attention back to the British market and you can expect new dry and wet products to become available in 2019. In fact testing and development has been ongoing for some months now, we have been evaluating new compounds, materials and constructions on the British hills and have already made some significant gains. We recently tested a new slick product at Curborough which delivered substantially improved times with feedback of improved grip, steering response and stability as well as demonstrating greater longevity and consistency of tyre performance.
Can you tell us more about the new Avon wets?
For the 2019 season we will be offering, for the first time a dedicated Wet compound in 637. This is a new generation compound that Avon Tyres Motorsport have developed over the last 3 years.
We have always tried to get as much value for the competitors as possible. So cutting of older dry tyres has been a way of making the best of used scrubbed Avon rubber for years. Unfortunately new wet compounds have arrived and these compounds will improve wet weather performance. Again the A15/594 and A92/592 will still perform well but, ultimately the dedicated wet product will be faster.
Will these changes this year have an effect on cost?
I think we will need to wait and see how things progress. There has been a lack of tyre competition in UK Hillclimbing recently and this has led to a period of stability for competitors. To be honest, we have been happy to leave development alone, as every competitor knows the tyres and what they are capable of. Everyone was using the same compound, so the status quo was maintained and it all came down to driving. Now there is some choice and this has sparked development. There are always costs associated with development whether it’s the need to set-up the car differently, testing, and of course purchasing new tyres to name a few.
The new season is nearly upon us and the proof will be shown on the hills over the next few months, 2019 is going to be an exciting Hillclimbing Season and we are all very much looking forward to it!
Remind us of how competitors can get in touch?
Please call us on 0121 331 1122 opt 4 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check the website out at www.bmtrracing.com
Thank you to Paul for taking the time to provide these details. Is there anything else you would like to know? Let us know in the comments below. It will be interesting to see how these tyre options shake things up this season – there’s not long to wait now!
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