If you’re a high-performance racing team with ambitions to win the 2019 Nürburgring 24h–Race, then perhaps Richard Hammond isn’t the first name that springs to mind when looking for a test driver to put your tyres through their paces.
So you can understand Falken Tyres’ reservations when the TV presenter best known for high-speed crashes pitched up to offer a helping hand at the Portimao race circuit in Portugal.
Falken Motorsports Team, who are 20-year veterans of the German Endurance racing series VLN and the 24h-Race, Nürburgring, were in Portugal to fine tune their racing slicks on specially adapted Porsche 911 GT3 R, building on a 2018 programme that saw them rack-up two wins and seven podium finishes.
Hammond had been invited by Falken to report on the test on behalf of DriveTribe, the automotive social media platform he co-founded with fellow Grand Tour hosts, Jeremy Clarkson andJames May.
Having experienced Portimao one or or two times before Hammond kitted himself out in racing fatigues to see whether he could lend a hand on the track and put his own racing expertise to good use. What he discovered however, was a team of somewhat preoccupied engineers crunching mountains of data as they searched for the ultimate “temperature window” that enables the tyres to perform at their very best.
As Falken Team Motorsports Principal, Sven Schnabl drily pointed out to a perplexed looking Hammond, “the tyres have to last eight laps or 125 intensive miles around the Nürburgring, with performance dependent on the tyres sustaining a few degree window that dictates whether they are switched on or off”.
In other words, as Hammond clarifies, a tiny variance that ensures “whether they work, or not.”
In a video filmed by Richard Hammond’s production company Chimp Productions, Falken offer a ring-side seat into the endless hours of work and impressive technology that goes into professional racing. The video, which forms part of Falken’s three month sponsorship of DriveTribe’s Motorsports section, offers a behind the scenes peek into Falken’s heritage in racing while celebrating the work of its highly qualified technicians and engineers.
Dennis Wilstermann of Falken said, “We were thrilled to work with DriveTribe and Chimp on the story of our racing preparation. The video, which captures the kind of sweeping cinematic shots and dynamism of an episode of The Grand Tour or TopGear, describes the puzzles that come together when fettling or fine tuning a car.”
Commenting after the filming, Hammond said “We had a lot of fun making the video, driving some extraordinary cars. It was also humbling to see the science that goes intorace preparation, trying to find tiny variances in the tyre compound that enable them to perform at their best.”
JonathanMorris, CEO from DriveTribe said, "Motorsports represents one of our most engaged areas on DriveTribe, with content covering every major franchise as well as grassroots racing communities from around the world. The Falken video does a fantastic job in capturing that trackside atmosphere, telling the story behind Falken’s racing team and the thought that goes into their product development.
Working with Richard Hammond’s production company Chimp enabled us to tap into some of the most talented and experienced film-makers in the business, delivering a level of production quality that could easily compete with the very best TV motor shows.”
Read the full Falken Motorsports case study