On Friday tyre manufacturer ProCircuit publicly announced that they refuted the allegations of additive use. A week ago at the first round of German Nats it emerged that the German Federation (DMC) were testing tyres for additive and judged that tyres from ProCircuit did not pass and took the decision to ban all their tyres. NeoBuggy contacted both parties for their sides and despite not hearing from the DMC yet ProCircuit agreed to partake in an exclusive interview, we spoke with founder Marc Ibars to get his insight into the situation.


NeoBuggy: Marc, your tyres were declared illegal in Germany, what’s your response?
Marc Ibars:
 Firstly, we would like to say that from our point of view the accusations are false and unfounded. Neither the tyres we give to our team drivers nor tyres we sell are treated with any form of additive to improve their performance.

We can demonstrate that all ProCircuit tyres are made primarily from rubber mixed with different chemical products to modify it’s properties. Once mixed, the resulting material has all the properties we want and is only vulcanized in a hot mould to obtain the various designs and patterns.

This process is the same for all tyre manufacturers, with perhaps the only difference being the type or quantity of chemical products that are mixed with the rubber before being vulcanized. No tyre on the market is made from 100% natural rubber that comes direct from a tree. Having said that, as a tyre manufacturer we’d like to explain it is meaningless that after producing a tyre, we use any chemical product to then alter it. Simply adjusting the products in the initial mixture is much more effective method of modifying the properties of the rubber than using an additive.

In short; by modifying those chemical products it is possible to get anything from a truck tyre to a rubber band or balloon. Accusing a tyre manufacturer of using additives after manufacture is illogical.


NB: How were factory sealed, store bought public tyres declared illegal ?
MI:
 It is normal that the same results have been found in the tyres we sell as these are exactly the same as those used by our team drivers. As I have explained in the previous question our tyres are not treated with any additive to improve traction.

According to our sources, the measures or values obtained by the verification machine “MiniRAE 3000” for production tyres (which were bought in stores) were even higher than for team drivers’ tyres. Assuming that these VOC compounds were additives that improve the performance of our tyres, is there any logic to the tyres used by our team drivers having less performance than the tyres we sell?

In our opinion, no. This is further proof of the absurdity of this false accusation. If these VOC compounds indicate improved performance of the tyres it would be more logical that team drivers’ tyres gave higher values thus obtaining the best results. The only difference between the production tyres and team drivers’ tyres is the packaging.

– Production tyres are sold packaged in our sealed, plastic tubes so that tyres sold to end customers are not exposed to contact with air. This ensures product freshness and quality regardless of elapsed time since manufacture.
It is well known that exposure to air causes oxidation and reactions in the rubber that change its properties and this affects the performance of the tyres.

– Team drivers’ tyres are supplied in plastic bags for easy transport when travelling to different races. These plastic bags however do not guarantee the quality of the product, as we understand that tyres used by our team drivers should not be stored for long periods of time


NB: Do you have any idea which chemical products used during production have resulted in the tyres being deemed illegal ?
MI:
 Unfortunately we cannot answer that question because neither in EFRA rules nor in the rules of any other European country you can find a list of chemicals considered illegal for tyre manufacture.

From what we understand from our sources in the absence of a statutory notice that has been requested from the German Federation “DMC”, our tyres have been banned for containing a VOC (Volatile Organic Compound). For anyone who does not know what a VOC is we recommend looking at this page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volatile_organic_compound

As you can see, many of the products used in our hobby emit VOCs, such as glue, oils, WD40, paint, all fuel components, brake cleaner, air filter oil, to name a few. In addition, many other household products, such as perfumes, cosmetics, hair spray, cleaning products, cigarettes and air fresheners. I am sure you will be familiar with some activities that generate VOCs: gas stoves, wood stoves, dry cleaning, smoking, car exhausts.

As you can understand, we will not reveal the secrets of how we make our tyres. In the same way, no other tyre manufacturer is going to say which chemical products are used in the manufacture of their compounds, since this is the main difference between all tyre brands. In any case I will try to clarify some points. About 90% of all tyres is rubber while the remaining 10% is chemical products. The properties of the tyre vary depending on these chemical products and production processes.


NB: NB: You mentioned the remaining 10% of a tyre’s make up is a variety of chemical products, what do they actually do ?
MI:
 Rubber is an elastic polymer that is obtained naturally from the sap of various plants. I do not want to dwell too much on this explanation, if you want more information you can easily find it on the internet, for example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_rubber

Obviously the natural material cannot be used for tyres and it is necessary to mix it with chemical products to change its physical properties depending on the use to be obtained. At this point the challenge begins for the tyre manufacturer as the chemical products change properties such as elasticity, flexibility, wear resistance and other parameters. Based on these parameters the tyres behave in one way or another, will wear more or less, have more or less grip, will vary more or less with temperature. Ultimately this small proportion of chemical products is what makes a brand of tyres different from the others.


NB: Are any of these products harmful to one’s health or the environment ?
MI:
 Absolutely not. All products used in the manufacturing and production process meet all current European legislation and ensure that the final product is classified as not dangerous for human beings, nor harmful to the environment.

NB: Are there any plans to change the make up or chemical products used in production to make your tyres legal ?
MI:
 Obviously not. All components of our tyres have been developed to try to give the end user the best possible product.

We do not believe we should change anything because we consider our tyres to be completely legal. If there are people who, for the sake of being different from other brands, simple misunderstanding or for any other reason, consider our tyres to be illegal, maybe these people should provide an explanation or say what needs to change and why.

All the ProCircuit team are proud to be different, to have been capable of developing a product unlike any other because we know that this is the way to innovate and we will continue in the same direction. Continue dreaming about doing something different and that one day our tyres are the best tyres in the world.


NB: According to some rumours another tyre brand also tested positive but were not declared illegal, any thoughts on that ?
MI:
 If you believe that finding VOC compounds means that the tyre has been treated with additives, it would be logical that all tyres that gave some reading should be disqualified.

Obviously that is not the case and there are only two possible reasons:

1. Everyone talks of “magic” additives that make any bad tyre better than all the others. But the reality is that nobody knows exactly what they are talking about or how to detect it. At the end they use a machine that nobody really knows how it works and decide that anything not the same as the powerful American brands or brands of their own country is illegal. In my opinion, this is without any objective or scientific criteria.

2. They have something against our brand because from the beginning our brand has always been accused of using substances that are banned, illegal, toxic or dangerous and our pilots of playing dirty and cheating. In our opinion the performance of our tyres and results obtained (European Champion A, European Champion B, Montpelier GP 2012, Spanish National Championship 2011, French National Championship 2011, Bitty Contest 2011, among others) may have surprised some people and instead of recognizing their defeats, they prefer to accuse us without knowing all the effort and the work put in to get where we are.

NB: Final thoughts and comments ?
MI:
 From all the ProCircuit family (and I speak on behalf of all Modelix employees and all our team drivers) I would just like to say that we hope this interview will help to clarify the whole issue and to demonstrate once and for all that being different from the others should be a virtue not a defect.

I would also like to say that we will continue to work even harder than we have done in recent years to achieve our dream of one day being the best tyre manufacturers in the world. And we hope that all the fans of this hobby will give us a chance to prove our tyres and then decide.

Referring to the case of the German Federation, we have tried talking to them but so far we have not received any Official response. I would like to say that we will continue defending our innocence (by judicial means if necessary) until we obtain a correction and official public apology.

We’d also like to thank NeoBuggy for the chance to do this interview.