Interview: Ride Racing 2023
We interview Ludovic "Ludo" Leflon of Ride Racing Team about their Ride F1 tyres. It's 10 years since our last interview with Ride - where has the time gone?!
RCF1: Do you still have the same role at Ride that you had in 2013?
Yes, basically I have the same initial functions at Ride [in charge of prototype and final product testing, long term validation and racing tech support], but since the pandemic, some staff chose to pursue other personal projects.
So I took over some occasional QC [Quality Control], assembly, packing and shipping duties on top of my initial functions. Busier than ever to bring Ride where it belongs!
RCF1: During COVID some tyre manufacturers had difficulty sourcing rubber for their tyres. Did you have that problem? Is this still an issue?
COVID mainly affected our sales like every other manufacturers. Limited access to public venues such as RC tracks had catastrophic effects commercially. And of course, the chemicals needed for our tyre production were tough to come by during that period too.
We took a good hit for sure like many others did but we stood back up and we are working hard to get things back to where they were before the pandemic.
RCF1: When were the Ride VR tyres released?
The VR line up was officially released Worldwide in February 2022.
RCF1: What changes were made compared to the GR tyres?
Mainly, the rubber and other chemical ingredients used in the VR were significantly different from the GR. Everything else remained the same. Wheel, insert and tyre mold stayed the same.
RCF1: What prompted the changes to the successful GR tyre so soon after it was released?
The main reason of the swap GR to VR was due to the up-coming shortage of a specific chemical only produced and available in Japan. This production coming to an end, we were simply forced to adapt the compound formula to an alternative chemical that was available at the time. The end production wasn’t performing equally as the GR so we could not carry on the GR name. The VR name stepped in.
RCF1: What performance degradation did you notice between the GR and VR?
Since GR and VR are noticeably made of different material, so it’s not easy to compare them. The GR provided a very safe driving feel when the VR was a little livelier and would require sharper skills, especially on outdoor tracks. To be totally transparent, the rear VR tyre lifespan was also a bit shorter than the GR.
RCF1: I tested the VR recently back to back with GR tyres, on two different asphalt tracks (with track temps between 26C and 30C) with and without tyre additive, and found them very similar in feel, handling and lap times. Any thoughts?
Truly happy you found the VR similar to GR in your testing conditions. We received very mixed feelings and opinions to say the least. Some parts of Europe and other remote locations didn’t like the VR at all on outdoor tracks. Great on carpet but too sensitive to drive outdoor. Then Japan and other Asian countries absolutely loved the VR as much as they did with GR, no matter the surface. We’re guessing track surface, layout, and driving preferences can make a big difference on a tyres commercial success. GR might have had a more unanimous pleasant feedback than the VR. The VR were different and often when a change occurs, it’s a challenge to keep everyone happy.
RCF1: Do you have any suggestions on how to maximise the performance of the VR tyres on asphalt and on carpet?
I can’t tell much about carpet as we don’t have our own way to test on such surface here in Thailand. But according to our Japanese drivers, they could adapt to the VR tyres very naturally on Carpet. Basically get the front end to be a little less sensitive steering-wise, limit the time application of tyre sauce on the front, sometimes even no treatment at all. These suggestions can be pushed a bit further on an outdoor track.
RCF1:The Ride VR tyres aren’t listed or mentioned on the Ride website. No press release. No mention on any industry websites (that I could find). Was this done for a reason?
We always release a New Product Information when a new item is out on the market. The VR were launched in Feb 2022 and it was sent to all our retailers/dealers/distributors worldwide.
RCF1: Do you have any future plans for new F1 tyres such as a foam tyre?
Definitely nothing made of Foam, I'm afraid. We technically could as we have access to some of the best Japanese foam suppliers but Ride wishes to focus on the F1 rubber market. Therefore, we are working on a replacement of the VR line that received mixed feelings around the World in the past year and a half.
As the world of full scale Formula1 is rocking 18 inch wheels nowadays, some bigger diameter wheel with lower profile tyres are currently in our developing pipelines and may be released before the end of the year. Though, we cannot be more date specific at this time.
RCF1: Any other comments you’d like to make that you believe may be of interest to our readers?
Beside the F1 topic, Ride is also working on some high performance TC tyres (for officially sanctioned events). We wish to come back in this market segment at some point. So stay tuned for this too.
RCF1: I see that Ride had it’s 20th anniversary in 2021 during COVID. A belated congratulations and happy birthday!
Thank you so much! Appreciated.
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