200-Treadwear Tire Test | Goodyear F1 Supercar 3 and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 vs. the Outgoing Bridgestone RE-71R

Andy
By Andy Hollis
Jul 6, 2021 | tires | Posted in Tires & Wheels | From the Dec. 2020 issue | Never miss an article

Photography Credit: Perry Bennett/Andy Hollis

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the December 2020 issue of Grassroots Motorsports.]

200-treadwear street tires keep getting faster, with newcomers constantly stepping in to battle the stalwarts. The Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R has been one of the leaders in both track and autocross use, but can the latest from Goodyear and Michelin knock it from its pedestal? 

The Tires

These are tires that can be driven daily through non-freezing weather conditions yet deliver strong motorsports performance–call them today’s streetable track and autocross tires. As many organizations have built their rule sets around this tire category, manufacturers have stepped up their development efforts to try and outpace the competition. 

From left to right: New contender Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 Connect (240), new contender Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3 and benchmark Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R. Photography Credit: Andy Hollis

The Test Car

Photography Credit: Perry Bennett

Given each tire’s sizing availability, we opted for something bigger than a Miata: a McLaren 720S, a veteran of the One Lap of America, a multi-state road tour and track competition backed by Grassroots Motorsports. 

The McLaren is a consistent, easy-to-drive car that takes a big tire and also fits nicely into the SCCA Time Trials Max 1 class, a place for “dream cars, built or bought.” This one has been undefeated in three national events this year while also winning the national title.. The only modifications are track pads, an aggressive alignment, and Finspeed forged wheels that are 1 inch wider than stock: 19x10-inch fronts and 20x12-inch rears. We chose to run 265mm fronts and 305s for the rears for this test.

The Test

First, the tires were all given a good scrub and a mild heat cycling on a local cul-de-sac. Further, we ran the Bridgestones through a hard 20-minute session at Driveway Austin, as years of experience have shown that these tires benefit from this extra prep. 

Our testing venue was the newly repaved Harris Hill Raceway, where we’ve racked up thousands of laps. As a typical club-style track, it emphasizes handling but offers several opportunities to put down power and then fully exercise the brakes. 

Lap times and analysis came via our AiM Solo 2 DL data logger. We ran 20-minute sessions for each tire, with the best three laps scored for comparison. 

Round 1

Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R
best lap: 1:22.0

Photography Credit: Andy Hollis

Our baseline tire for this test has been a staple of 200-treadwear classes for many years, boasting countless wins both on track and around cones. It has been lauded for its instant-on grip in every session and consistent performance throughout its tread life. It’s also easy to read, offering good feedback and intuitive manners. 

That said, it can be edgy in some applications, and so it was during our test: The tire was talkative on the new pavement, yet the chassis could be carefully balanced through steady-state turns via modulation of the throttle. Braking was strong, though the ABS did engage a bit earlier than with some of the other tires. 

The Bridgestone’s quickest times during the first session came on laps four, five and six, after which performance spiraled downward and the tire got a little greasy. Those fast laps all fell within a three-tenths span.

Round 2

Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3
best lap: 1:20.0

Photography Credit: Andy Hollis

The largest segment of most tiremakers’ business centers around OE fitments, not motorsports-oriented replacements. Sometimes, though, the two realms align perfectly. That’s the case with the Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3: This one was originally designed for the track-focused ZL1 and SS 1LE versions of the Chevrolet Camaro, yet the available sizes were expanded to cover a wide range of applications in the replacement market, meaning everything from a Miata-sized 205/50R15 to the mighty 325/30R19. 

Within that huge range of fitments, there are some differences: The 255mm-and-smaller section widths are molded to 9/32 inch, while larger sizes are shallower at 7/32-8/32. Those larger sizes also have less void area in the outer shoulders to deliver improved handling for heavier vehicles. Compound and construction are consistent throughout the range, though. 

On track, this tire displayed a broad peak of grip, making it much easier to stay balanced at the limit through mid-corner. Braking was also substantially improved over the Bridgestone, as was corner exit power-up; these two advantages accounted for most of the lap time delta over the Bridgestone. 

From a drivability standpoint, the Goodyear had superior multitasking abilities but seemed rather numb in both feel and communication. Being consistently quick on this tire will require experience to predict its limits rather than feeling or hearing them dynamically. Quickest pace came on the first three laps; then the tire settled in at about half a second slower for the duration of the session.

Round 3

Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 Connect (240)
best lap: 1:20.0

Photography Credit: Andy Hollis

Long a leader in performance tires for motorsports, Michelin was among the first to deliver streetable track day tires. Many of these found their way into OE fitments on the world’s fastest production cars, whose limits can only be fully explored on a road course. 

Previous models under the Pilot Sport Cup moniker have carried a sub-200 treadwear number while falling into Tire Rack’s Streetable Track & Competition category. The latest generation of this line now carries a 240-treadwear rating, allowing it to slot into compliance with the Extreme Performance Summer tire category. How would this evolution of a track day tire perform in both single-lap pace and consistency?

The new Michelin is all about grip–plenty of it. It put down power better than others in the category and multitasked extremely well. Trail braking was intuitive, as was early corner-exit acceleration. The first-lap pace felt incredible, egging us to push harder and harder–until the prodigious grip finally dropped off a cliff. 

Steady-state cornering was an exercise in managing understeer at the limit. Once the tires were overcooked, grip took a while to return to normal. Staying just beneath the limit, though, delivered consistently fast laps.

Round 4

Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R (re-test)
best lap: 1:21.5

To quantify driver or surface improvement changes within our test window, we went back to the RE-71R for our final session. While the lap times did drop about half a second compared to the first session of the day, all of the time delta resulted from a driver confidence improvement in Turn 1. The rest of the lap was unchanged. Given that, we are confident in about a 1.5-second lap time improvement with both the test tires versus the baseline.

Winners & Losers

Time seems to have left the Bridgestone RE-71R in its wake. Though it’s had a good, long run, others have now come in to steal its thunder. Both of our newcomers posted substantially quicker times–at least for this one data point. Will Bridgestone respond with an update? Only time will tell.

Notably, each of the new tires had its quickest lap right out of the box—a data point that should please autocrossers—with slower subsequent times. Comparing the data showed similar performance across much of the circuit. 

However, the Goodyear performed better under braking, while the Michelin was superior in high-speed corner entries. Which is ultimately quicker will depend on the application, driver and setup.

Track Results


all times in seconds

[Editor's Note: In a recent 200tw tire test, we heat cycled the Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R more and found that it became faster on track.]

Join Free Join our community to easily find more tires articles.
Comments
View comments on the GRM forums
Scott Skillman
Scott Skillman New Reader
5/17/21 9:16 a.m.

Great review as always Andy.

What pressures were you using and does your experience tell you they each may have a sweet spot?

Scott Skillman

Andy Hollis
Andy Hollis
5/17/21 9:01 p.m.

We ran them at about 30 psi hot for that test.  Our experience has shown that all of them deliver similar pace with +/- 3 psi of that. But feel will change.

 

Always test for your own pressures, as camber, wheel sizing, vehicle weight and suspension all impact the optimal range.

Our Preferred Partners
YrOE5zBxE9QtPHf11MxB2QrIIT7ftYsJtGG7RPnwa2nsu4tXSfEan2nzKmOdNlY7