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"Tires that can be reliably driven to and from a track and used effectively on the track are generally grouped into three categories, with each category favoring a different balance of performance: "

 

Track Day Tires Explained

by

Steve Calder, Ultra High Performance (UHP) Tire Designer, Michelin North America

Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2Tires that can be reliably driven to and from a track and used effectively on the track are generally grouped into three categories, with each category favoring a different balance of performance: 

Streetable Track & Competition:  Pilot Sport Cup 2, Pirelli Trofeo.

Tires in this group put more priority on track performance (lap times) and less priority on street behavior (such as hydroplaning, noise, and wear). 

Extreme Performance Summer:  BFG Rival / Rival S

Tires in this category give up just enough track performance to achieve UTQG wear ratings (200+) sufficient for application in racing classes that require a street tire.  The street behavior can still be marginal with poor hydroplaning, more noise, and rapid wear. 

Max Performance Summer:  Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S, Continental ExtremeContact Sport

Max Performance Summer tires are intended for daily street use with strong hydroplaning performance, low noise, lower rolling resistance, and longer wear life.  Although they can be used on a track with good results, the lap times will not compete with the more track oriented categories.

In the Michelin family, the choice of street and track tires comes down to either the Pilot Sport Cup 2 or the Pilot Sport 4 S (and Pilot Super Sport).

For drivers who run numerous track days and are searching for the fastest lap time while still being able to drive safely to and from the track, the Pilot Sport Cup 2 is the best choice.  The Cup 2 has become the tire of choice for premium manufacturers looking to set track records, for example Porsche 918, Corvette Z06, Ford Shelby GT350R, and Koenigsegg One: 1.   The Sport Cup 2 features a tread pattern with a wide, reinforced shoulder using a high molecular chain elastomer for exceptional dry drip and long circuit wear.  The interior side of the tread pattern uses large grooves to prevent hydroplaning and a compound tuned for wet grip.  The Sport Cup 2 actually performs very well in wet conditions and resists hydroplaning as long as speeds are kept to the legal limit.  

Drivers who spend the majority of their time on the street, but occasionally participate in a track day, will appreciate the Pilot Sport 4 S.  Compared to competitors in its class the PS4S is #1 for dry lap time, # 1 for dry braking, and #1 for wet lap time.  Like the Cup 2, the PS4S also use a multi-compound tread construction with a track oriented compound on the shoulder and a wet compound on the interior.  Compared to the Cup 2, the PS4S has deeper tread depth and more void (larger grooves and more lateral features) to evacuate water at higher speeds.   The PS4S is also a very capable track tire; however, it trades ultimate lap time performance for better wet behavior, lower noise, and longer wear.  Compared to its predecessor, the Pilot Super Sport, the PS4S is improved in every category. 

Tires in these high performance categories all benefit directly from technologies tested and proved in endurance racing such as the 24 hours of Le Mans.  Everyday drivers and race teams all want the same things from their tires – more grip and longer wear.  As Michelin makes improvements in racing tires to deliver grip and wear, these technologies are handed down to the next generation of high performance street tires.  Thus, the future for Michelin in this category will be continuously pushing the envelope of grip (both dry and wet) and tread life, without sacrificing hydroplaning, noise, or comfort.

 

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