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Toyo Tires Constant Testing Creates Better Tires By Stuart Bourdon Photos courtesy Toyo Tires All the engine power and suspension travel in the world won’t do you any good if the tires are not suited for your particular application. While all forms of motorsports focus on speed and handling, desert racing adds an extra emphasis on a tire’s strength and durability. We checked in with tire engineer Dave Chu from Toyo Tires to talk about how off-road racing has influenced the technology and design of its products, and who Toyo Tires is working with to help continue improving tire strength and durability. We also learned the company has been involved in off-road racing longer than many may realize. Origin Story “Toyo Tires has supported independent teams participating in SCORE off-road racing since the 1970s, but it wasn’t until 2004, when Toyo Tires started the development of the Open Country M/T-R, that we came into the sport in a big way,” says Chu. “The Open Country M/T-R was designed specifically for desert racing, but its origins are in the off-the-shelf Open Country M/T.” After two years of testing, Toyo Tires won their first SCORE Baja 1000 in 2016 with Robby Gordon and Andy McMillin. “That win would be the first of many for the Open Country M/T-R, and the tire consumers can buy features the same characteristics,” said Chu. The technology transfer from race to the street was not accidental. From the start, Chus says the engineers at Toyo Tires were determined to use off-road racing to improve its recreational consumer product. “Our engineers accomplished a lot very early on to help our drivers achieve the speed and handling that they look for, but it is the durability aspect that is always evolving. The terrains encountered are getting more treacherous, and the race trucks continue to get heavier and more powerful. To keep pace with what racers and recreational users need, Toyo continues to develop tires that can take more abuse than ever.” Always Testing Moving forward with that constant drive to create an even better off-road tire, Toyo Tires has a star-studded group of drivers and teams to rely on for development feedback during the upcoming SCORE International World Desert Championship season. “We have a strong lineup this season with Andy McMillin, Bryce Menzies, Alan Ampudia, Robby Gordon, BJ Baldwin, and Tavo Vildosola representing Toyo Tires,” said Chu. “While it may be all fun and exciting for the casual off-road racing fan, Toyo engineers will be working closely with drivers and race trucks during the races to keep learning. We run a combination of test methods from those in a controlled environment, to running the real thing on location. We gather driver feedback, instrument data, and we analyze the used racing tires. This helps us get the whole story of exactly how our tires performed. Every time our drivers test or race, we are learning and applying new concepts and technologies. The compound, tread pattern, and internal construction each are constantly developed and tested at the races. We have applied these experiences and learnings to our Open Country tires made for racers and consumers, making our tires more resistant to cut and chip wear, as well as sidewall damage.”  Off-road racing presents much more severe terrain conditions than most consumers normally experience. However, the knowledge Toyo Tires gains in motorsports are applied when developing its consumer products. “Just as the vehicles and environments in desert racing have changed tires,” said Chu. “Consumers challenge their tires more and more as they explore new territories to drive in and their vehicles become more capable.” SJ

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