Andy Hollis
Andy Hollis
2/10/16 3:16 p.m.

“Cool car. Looked fast out there. What kind of lap times were you turning?” It’s the inevitable conversation at track days around the country, where quick lap times are worn like a badge of honor by those who achieve them. This is especially true when the vehicle of choice doesn’t appear to be all that fast.

And while the driver is key to extracting maximum performance from the vehicle at all points around the track, the tires are what connect the car to the road. Maximum grip, response, communication and consistency are the traits drivers need for that one hot lap.

Sensing an opportunity, tire makers have responded to this market by creating a whole class of streetable track day tires, ones that carry DOT approvals and deliver in spades on the road course. The downside of these R-comps is longevity: Their sticky rubber quickly becomes a sacrificial offering to the god of speed.

At the same time, various automakers have engaged in an ever-escalating battle of high-performance street cars equipped with longer-lasting and supergrippy street tires. Those OE fitments have served as the basis of the tire market’s Extreme Performance Summer segment, and they have a collateral effect on the replacement tire business. This is a win-win for track enthusiasts, since these tires approach the performance of streetable track day tires but are easier on the wallet.

Various competition-oriented motorsports organizations have recognized this trend and restricted tire usage to those with UTQG treadwear ratings of 200 or better in some of their classes. LeMons, Redline Time Attack, Ultimate Street Car Association and One Lap of America are examples of these venues , while ChumpCar’s minimum is close at 180. These tires also find a home in NASA Time Trial, where the points-oriented modification system often favors their use.

In our June 2015 issue, we tested the latest crop of these tires around the cones for autocross use. This time, we decided to see how they perform on the road course.

Our format for the test was typical of these events: one warmup lap, three timed hot laps, and then a cooldown. We bracketed each session using the winner of our track test from two years ago, the BFGoodrich g-Force Rival. This allowed us to verify that conditions didn’t change throughout the day and that the driver and car were consistent.

Since running at the limit on unfamiliar tires is risky business, we chose to use familiar equipment in a wellknown environment: the One Lap CRX running on its home track, Harris Hill Raceway. Situated in the rolling Hill Country of Central Texas, the track offers medium-high speeds and a variety of corners and elevations.

We held our test on a typical spring day for the area: sunny, with ambient temps in the 80s. All tires were 205/50R15 mounted on 15x8-inch 6UL wheels by 949 Racing.

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mazdeuce PowerDork
2/10/16 3:36 p.m.

Were both of the Civics David tested his cars? And did you see times drop a second for the CRX and the Civic Si?
That full second is a pretty big deal for TT and might make a difference in how points are spent.

LuxInterior HalfDork
2/10/16 3:51 p.m.

It's great to have the data and driving impressions. I wish the RE-71R came in 225/45 15.

brian6speed New Reader
2/11/16 7:50 p.m.

Been using star spec II, really wanna try RE-71R. Autocross and track my 03 Acura CL. There is a PDK Porsche Boxster Spyder who seems to always beat me by 1 second running RE-71R tires. Maybe that is all I need to compete.

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