Crispin d’Albertanson, chief observer at Wey Valley Advanced Motorcyclists and an IAM RoadSmart lead Skills Day instructor, spent a school day with Ron Haslam learning about Dunlop’s new range of tyres.
What’s the difference between sheer excitement and abject fear? That was the question I was asking myself as Mike Gent, business development manager for Dunlop Motorcycle Tyres, explains my first track session at the Ron Haslam Race School on their Dunlop shod Honda CBR 650R will be with the great man ‘Rocket Ron’ himself.
After the briefest briefing I have ever had: “I’ll keep going until you drop back and then I’ll slow down,” we’re off on to the hallowed Donington Park Grand Prix circuit.
I’m supposed to be evaluating the Dunlop Roadsmart 3 but I have to admit I’m more star struck following one of my heroes. Conditions couldn’t be better with bright sunshine and temperatures in the high teens.
The pace began to gradually pick up as I concentrated on following Ron. We began to overtake traffic easily as the instructors communicated seamlessly to keep everyone flowing at their own pace.
Despite riding on a track with road tyres, I managed to never get them out of shape. They turned in smoothly and progressively and gave good feedback and confidence, although they began to move around a little under spirited braking.
The Ron Haslam Race School use the Dunlop Roadsmart 3 on their bikes because it performs well in different weather conditions, from dry to wet.
After lunch I had a further three 20-minute track sessions to get to grips with the new Dunlop SportSmart 3 hypersports tyres with instructor Paul Heston and my riding partner, James Jackson of the Guildford Tyre Company.
The Dunlop SportSmart is aimed at road riders with the occasional track use. It was difficult to detect much difference from the RoadSmart 3’s grip levels, however steering felt quicker which helped make fast side-to-side changes of direction through the iconic Craner Curves and Foggy Esses much easier. Also they were more stable under hard braking at the end of the Dunlop and Wheatcroft straights.
Dunlop says that the SportSmart 3 has improved grip in the wet due to a new compound blend and silica content coupled with an innovative new tread pattern. I couldn’t put that to the test but I’m fitting a set to my road going BMW S1000RR and will see how they live up to the claims in the real world compared to the Metzeler M7 RR which has been my tyre of choice to date.
Guildford Tyre Company will be providing a full tyre service at IAM RoadSmart Skills Days at Thruxton and Mallory Park this season. To pre-order these tyres ahead of the Skills Days, email James at email@example.com.
By Crispin d’Albertanson, chief observer at Wey Valley Advanced Motorcyclists and an IAM RoadSmart lead Skills Day instructor