Dunlop Sportmax D211 GP Racers review - track tested

Grip? Oh my life...

Insurance companies giving something back to their customers? Eh? Come again?

Yes, it’s true.

Nipped along to Snetterton on Tuesday where Bennetts Insurance had 100 competition winners along for a free track day. And judging by the hand show when the room was asked how many people had never done a track day before, it was a first-time event for a great many. Brilliant.

For some reason they’d invited me, too despite the fact that I’ve never bought any vehicle insurance since 1987.

Even though it was the end of September it was my first time on track with my trusty ABS Fireblade. Quite how this shocking situation has arisen, I’m not sure.

It was also a first opportunity to try out my recently fitted Dunlop Sportmax tyres. They’ve been mega on the road – stable, and really well matched to the suspension settings with plenty of grip but I was keen to see how they’d shape up on track. I was also pretty keen to get rid of the road-only chicken strips...

The Snetterton 300 is a new layout to me. I went along to BSB as a spectator but that only gave me some idea of what the changes were like.

The new bits are pretty technical, very flat, camber-less and incredibly smooth and grippy. The long, curving approach to the braking area for the final corner is horrible and for me, ruins the whole circuit because it feels like it’s been designed by someone who only drives cars, not bikes.

I spent the morning learning the lines and cocking about with tyre pressures. I’d spoken to Dunlop’s technical boffins about pressures and they’d told me I could go as low as 17psi (cold) in the rear, depending on ambient and track temp. Now, I don’t know about you, but 17psi constitutes a flat tyre in my book. That’s the sort of pressure Dougie Lampkin might run. Apparently it’s something to do with the very clever Ntec carcass construction. The kind man from Dunlop did try to explain but I found myself drifting off to sleep.

By lunchtime I'd  ended up running 26 in the front and 24 in the rear and by the end of the day the rear was graining up really nicely without looking like it was getting too hot. The front, however didn’t seem to be getting enough heat in it and might have coped with a bit less pressure. But there again it might have been me being a bit of a fanny and not pushing hard enough into the turns. Or maybe it’s the way the ABS system stops the bike pitching onto its nose? Anyone else run an ABS Blade on the track?

The grip levels mid-corner and on the exit are just mind bending. I’ve obviously been out of touch with modern super-sticky race rubber. Clearly I’ve been spending too much time slithering around on cold roads. The edge-grip performance is like a slick tyre.

Using the new turn three as a sort of test bed I was getting on the gas harder and earlier every lap, trying to make the rear move. It got to the point where I was wheelying out of the corner while still cranked over leaving long black lines on the track surface. You’ve got to be so brutal and so early on the power to make the rear move at all that, to be honest, it’s way beyond what I want to do on a track day. The grip is just incredible. Rather than chasing lap times I used it as a kind of safety blanket, sort of like rubbery insurance.

If you want to do loads of track days and hate falling off, I suggest you buy yourself a nice pressure gauge and a pair of Dunlop Sportmax GP Racers. I’m hooked.