How much faster can new tires actually be?

David S.
Update by David S. Wallens to the Mazda Miata project car
May 22, 2023 | Mazda, Miata, tires, Falken, Garage Rescue Miata, RT660, Falken RT660, autoccross

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After 23 separate autocross events over two years–plus about 5300 miles total–perhaps our Falken Azenis RT660 tires on our Garage Rescue Miata had aged out. Even though they still sport 5/32 inch of tread across all four tires, the times from this past weekend suggest they've hit their expiration date.

[200-treadwear tire test | Falken RT660 vs. Yokohama A052 vs. Nankang CR-1]

While we didn’t do any formal A-B testing, the best times from the regulars in our class provided some simple data. All of us are driving 1.6-liter Miatas, and while the events were held at different sites, both were dry.

Last month:

  • Red Miata: 40.248 seconds
  • Blue Miata: 42.185 seconds
  • Our Miata: 42.874 seconds

This month:

  • Red Miata: 29.750 seconds
  • Our Miata: 29.937 seconds
  • Blue Miata: 30.571 seconds

The only change we made before this event: replacing our 205/50R15 Falkens with a set that had only been heat-cycled. (Okay, two changes: Where we had been running a 15x7-inch Kosei K1, the new tires were mounted on 15x6.5-inch Volk Racing TE37s simply because we wanted to run them at our latest Orlando Roadsters meet.)

[Ultimate track tire guide | 200tw, 100tw, street-legal track and R-comps]

What else did we find when swapping on a fresh set of tires? Crisper turn-in, improved power-down and more confident braking as the car didn’t seem to trip over a locked-up front. The new tires also simply ride better on the street, as they’re less harsh over sharp bumps.

So, did the Falkens help that much or did we just get lucky that day?

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Comments
David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
3/15/23 10:02 a.m.

Small PS: How much time did we give up by not mounting the fresh Falkens on the wider wheels? 

thashane
thashane GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/15/23 1:34 p.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

Or are the Volk's lighter? And how significant was the gain from reduced unsprung rotational mass? 

bludroptop
bludroptop UltraDork
3/15/23 2:04 p.m.

Been running 200tw tires since they were 140tw...  never worn a set to the cords but they get harder than differential calculus after a certain amount of time/cycles.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
3/15/23 2:55 p.m.
thashane said:

In reply to David S. Wallens :

Or are the Volk's lighter? And how significant was the gain from reduced unsprung rotational mass? 

They are lighter–but narrower, too. 

Berck
Berck Reader
3/16/23 10:05 a.m.

Those Falkens are well-known for heat cycling out long before the rubber's gone.  That said, autocross and street driving doesn't heat cycle like track use does.

They also have insanely stiff sidewalls, so I'd be surprised if the 6.5" vs 7" is all that noticeable with those tires--maybe even a benefit.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
3/16/23 1:11 p.m.
Berck said:

Those Falkens are well-known for heat cycling out long before the rubber's gone. 

I believe Andy’s reply was something like “told you so.”

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