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Hottest Autocross Tires for 2016


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#1 sjfehr

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Posted 22 January 2016 - 10:03 AM

This thread has been incrementally updated throughout 2016 and early 2017 and remains valid; see the comments below for the latest updates.

 

So you need new tires, huh?  This year, the choices are pretty simple.  If you need 200TW, get Bridgestone RE-71R.  If you're in Street Prepared or Street Mod, get Hoosier A7.  But, as always, it's not quite so simple as that.  Here's a quick run-down on the past year's worth of public testing and anecdotes:

 

Tech in General:  There has been extremely very rapid development in tire technology the past few years, with each year's new releases instantly obsolescing the rest.  The crop that came out in 2015 blows away everything else that came before, and whatever next year brings may well do the same again.  There are still some good compromise tires some people may choose, but if you want to be competitive for autocross, Bridgestone RE-71R, BF Goodrich RivalS and Kumho V720 are the only tires worth even considering.  Another consideration is spring rate: the stiffness of the tire sidewall impacts how well a particular tire will work on a particular car, and street cars with soft suspension generally like a stiffer sidewall tire while stiffer sprung cars like softer tires.  Driving style may impact your choice, too; RE-71R and Rival S handle very differently. 

 

Tirerack's testing: http://www.tirerack....ay.jsp?ttid=202

 

 
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Bridgestone RE-71R is the heavy favorite.  It's TireRack's top pick, Grassroots Motorsports' top 200TW track pick and tied with RivalS for GRM's top 200TW autocross pick.  It dominated SCCA nationals for every class running it.  In track performance, it's been faster than R-888, faster than the old Sport Cups and is considered similar to Pilot Sport Cup 2.  RE-71R has a stiff sidewall, and absolutely incredible grip, wet and dry.  Great lateral and longitunidal grip, and some of the best transition performance ever in a street tire.  There have been a lot of comparisons to R-comps, and they're mostly true, although these are NOT r-comps and are way slower than the A7; they just drive a lot more like r-comps than tires that have come before.  You can drive the absolute crap out of these tires; they have crisp turn in, good feedback, and good recovery if you push too hard.  The biggest con is tire wear: they wear fast.  Conventional wisdom is 2/3 the life of the previous top tires (ZII* & R-S3) but if abused, can wear even faster.  Plan to flip them on the rims at 1/2 life.  Running locally, Melissa and I got 135 runs out of our first set before seeing speeds drop off, which is typical of the type of life most people report. Several of us have noticed performance dropping off towards the end of tire life (near the treadwear bars), but it's hard to say if it's heat cycling or tread compound changing as corners wear. Lateral and longitudinal grip remains high, even when approaching bald, but transitional grip gives way and will result in slower times.

 

Wet:

If you're worried about wet weather performance, don't be: this tire was faster around Tirerack's test track in the wet than every prior rain-tire-to-have.  Similar stories with respect to launching vs BFG Rival.  (For street use: do remember the tread pattern on all these tires feature giant blocks and does increase risk of hydroplaning, though I've had no issues daily driving RE-71R at highway speeds in heavy rain, even worn down to the TW indicator.)  

 

Heat:

These tires like heat.  They do OK cool, great warm and greater still hot. They don't like it TOO hot, though; some people spray, but others (especially lighter cars) found limited benefit. GRM reported track times dropping slightly after the 2nd lap, but they never really get greasy.  Grip numbers stay high, even hot, but transitional performance drops when they get too hot, which can lead to surprise oversteer/understeer.

 

Daily Driving:

Street performance is likewise fantastic; I say without reservation that these are the best street tires I've ever owned.  They're well behaved on public roads, deal well with misc road debris and simply just stick like glue: every day is an autocross :)  Some people have complained about road noise (resonance at speed) it's never bothered me.  The biggest problem is you'll be extra especially frustrated at how slow everyone else are taking the on-ramps.  They work well on the street down to freezing temperatures.  Anyone have experience in very cold weather?

 

Availability:

Only limited sizes are available from 15-19"; the widest presently available is 285mm.  Nothing available in 20"+.  If they're not available in your preferred size, strongly consider different sizes.  If you can't find an RE-71R, Rival S or V720 that fits, change wheels.  Rival (non-S) and R-S3 come in 20" but if your new SS car only has 22" wheels... well... you might want to skim on down to MPSS.

 

Update: Additional sizes are anticipated to be available later in 2016:

265/45R18 3/1
235/45R18 3/1
245/35R20 3/1
235/40R19 3/1
265/40R19 3/1
195/50R15 3/1
285/30R18 3/1
255/40R20 8/1
295/30R20 8/1
285/35R20 8/1
305/30R19 8/1

 

BF Goodrich Rival-S:

These tires were specially designed to kick ass at SCCA Autocross Nationals at Lincoln, NE, and the formula was chosen because it grips fantastic on the unique surface there.  They're pretty damned quick everywhere else, too!  These tires were just shy of RE-71R in Tirerack and GRM tests, but available in the much wider sizes necessary for some cars. (335/35R18 Rival S > 285/35R19 RE-71R).  These tires have great launch grip and work well at very high slip angles, which a lot of people like- if you're a driver that likes a lot of rotation, you'll love these tires.  This high tolerance has also been a criticism, though: as they grip so well over such a large slip-angle range, it's difficult to tell when you're at peak grip.  They have softer sidewalls than RE-71R, and thus work well on cars with stiffer suspension.  They're also a heat loving tire but not TOO much heat.  They're a very soft tire and wear very quickly, though; conventional wisdom is they're only last 2/3 as long as the previous crop of top tires.

 

Availability:

Only VERY limited sizes are available from 15-18", but come in widths up to 335mm.  Nothing available in 19"+.  For large tire cars, these are your best choice: change wheels if you have to. 

 

Will add more; check back soon

 

Kumho V720:

These are another new top-gen tire and did well in testing, although always behind RE-71R and RivalS.  Some drivers in heavy camber-challenged FWD cars reported very rapid tire wear and chunking/rapid wear, but most people report more normal wear.  Due to coming late to market and without super-glowing test performance, very few people are running these competitively so there's not as much data available as for the other tires, but they're cheap in many sizes and generally considered to be top-tier with RE-71R and RivalS.

 

Availability: 11 sizes spanning 15-18", with 255 largest size.

 

Will add more when KeithK inevitably responds with much more detail   :) check back soon

 

Dunlop ZII*:

The RE-71R has been described as a "better ZII*" which is a good comparison; the ZII* is a great tire with a stiff sidewall, crisp turn-in, good traction, and good heat tolerance.  It doesn't have the same peak grip, though, nor does it have the transitioning ability.  But it's still a very quick tire, a fantastic daily driver (great wet & dry) and offers extremely good tread life; more like a 300TW than 200TW.  This would be a good compromise tire.  At least some sizes have a tread compound change right around the treadwear bars and grip will decrease progressively as the corners wear and the slower rubber is exposed.  Purchase cost is similar to the others for most sizes, but you can expect them to last about 50% longer than RE-71R or RivalS, so they're a good value option,

 

Wet:

Great wet & dry, though like all these tires, beware the big tread blocks if you hit standing water.

 

Heat:

These tires get faster the hotter they get, to a point.  They do good cool, great warm and greater still hot. They don't like it TOO hot, though; you'll need to spray (especially heavy cars) though not the torrent the previous ZII (non-star) needed.  Grip drops off hot and some teams have reported them getting greasy, though I never experienced that.  The earliest indication of overheating is transitional performance drops when they get too hot, which can lead to surprise oversteer/understeer.

 
Daily Driving:

Street performance is fantastic; these have been my favorite street tires and IMHO were the best sweet spot for autocross with respect to performance and tire life.  They're well behaved on public roads, deal well with misc road debris and simply just stick like glue: every day is an autocross.  Some people have complained about road noise (resonance at speed) it's never bothered me.  They work well on the street down to freezing temperatures.  

 

Availability: A number of sizes available between 14-19", the widest of which is 285.

 

Dunlop ZIII:

Out in Japan in 2017 with performance claims that look absolutely fantastic (significant higher grip, better heat tolerance, and longer life) but, alas, we're unlikely to see this tire until 2018.
 

BF Goodrich Rival: (non S)

Yep, still being made!  (update: as of early 2017, availability looks limited.)  These were a previous top-tier tire and very popular for several classes. These are not near as grippy as the Rival S and had some performance issues on rubbered-in Lincoln concrete that hampered wider adoption, as they proved very quick just about everywhere else.  (One anecdotal report from a driver was that he was launching quicker with RE-71R in the wet than BFG Rival in the dry.)  With their higher heat tolerance than the other top-tier tires, good performance at high slip angles and breakaway conditions, good consistency, and long life, these remain a good choice for HPDE.  This has a softer sidewall than the RE-71R and ZII*, though not as soft as the R-S3v2, but the best performance comes when paired with a stiff suspension.

 
Availability: available in a small handful of sizes between 17-20".  BFG is a big supporter of motorsports and supposedly keeping the assembly line open for track users, but looks like the # of sizes they're manufacturing are much smaller than the Rival's heyday.
 

Hankook R-S3v2:

Were the top tire in 2014 years ago, but aren't the top tire anymore.  Initially marketed at 140TW, the tread compound was changed (v2) and later revised to 200TW.  They have a soft sidewall and work well for stiffly sprung cars.  The soft sidewall make for sponginess on turn in, but they have fantastic peak grip and are great in sweeper-heavy courses.  The v2 compound works better at lower temperatures than the v1 compound, but are less tolerant of heat because of it.  This is still a good compromise tire for light stiff-sprung cars; your times won't be competitive, but they'll last a lot longer.

 
 
Availability: A number of sizes available between 15-20", the widest of which is 305.
 
Hankook R-S4:
Hankook's newest top-tier tire is expected in March 2017.  No specific word yet on performance, but everyone expects it to be quick.  Pricing is unfortunately set in-line with the more expensive tires so it won't be cheap performance like R-S3 was.

 

Toyo R1R:

An older tire design but still in production, these were "the tire to have" in several street touring classes for the many years, primarily the 195/50-15 tires that had a different compound mix than most of the other sizes and, when shaved, gave near r-comp performance.  Long marketed as 140TW and decried as r-comps, the newly manufactured tires are stamped 200TW with seemingly no change.  These have been largely eclipsed by the RE-71R and Rival S, but remain surprisingly quick and competitive for such an old design.  These tires don't like heat and can easily become "greasy" on heavy cars, especially if overdriven.  They wear quickly under those conditions, too.  Controversy about this being a "cheater" tire have finally been rendered moot by competitors' technological advances.  These need to be shaved for best performance/life; due to the tall soft tread blocks, these tires can be damaged by autocross in some conditions when at full tread. 

 
Maxxis VR-1:
Released in March 2016, this tire has a very similar tread pattern to ZII*/RE-71R and is reported to have a high heat tolerance and grip similar to ZII* and R-S3.  Multiple reviewers have compared it to AD-08R in feel and auditory feedback, and it looks poised to be a great track/DE tire.  It does sound as though it requires heat to work which may hurt it in cold weather DD use.  Do be aware that one size (295/40R-18) is a specialized drift tire and only molded to 6/32 tread depth, which makes it ineligible for SCCA autocross. 
 
Falken RT615K+:
Not much info yet besides 200TW and test speeds on TireRack's BMW roughly even with ZII* and Nexen SUR4. This tire has been revised for 2016; make sure you get a recent date code if you get them.  One of the TireRack staff commented "No bad habits on the course, the compound just has a bit less grip overall and slower response during turn-in than the ZII SS or RE71R. The behavior at the limit is very forgiving, I'm sure it makes a great Chump/Lemons endurance race tire or fun tire on the street if you don't mind some tread noise."  Another reviewer felt it was a virtual carbon copy ZII SS.
 
Nexen N FERA SUR4:
New for 2016 & 200TW.  Not much info yet besides test speeds on TireRack's BMW roughly even with ZII* and Falken RT615K.  One of the TireRack staff commented "Excellent braking grip, steering response is a bit behind the RE71R and ZII SS." Another reviewer reported they like a lot a slip angle to go fast and his track testing suggests they hold up well to heat.  There are abounding rumors that these use the same compound as Hankook RS-3 v2.  Reports are that heat management is good for autocross, that they don't take long to get up to temperature faster than RS-3 v2 and deal well with a lot of heat. No word yet on very cold or very hot weather performance, or longevity, but these are extremely cheap tires.  Word is that they run wide, so be careful if you're close to rubbing.  These tires are molded to 9/32, so if they are the same compound as RS-3, they may get good street life.
 
Nexen N FERA SUR4G:
Nexen is serious about their motorsports entry and updated their tire almost immediately after release, with the SUR4G available April 2017.  Early indications are that they are competeitive with RE-71R, take a lot of heat, and are progressive at the limit.  There was an article in SportsCar (SCCA's club magazine) about Nexen's tire testing in development of the SUR4G, and the testers all came away impressed with several of the prototypes.
 
Federal 595RS-R:
Fast and cheap, unfortunately 140 treadwear.  However, there is a newer version out now: 
 
Federal 595RS-RR:
Fast and cheap, and 200TW.  Not too many people running them competitively, though a lot of people talk about it.  This may be a good budget choice.  Multiple people have compared them to R-S3 but with a stiffer sidewall.  One person reported they don't like to get hot.  Early reports are that they've good in the dry (ZII or R-S3 speed), horrendous in the wet, and to quote one person, "the noisiest tires ever made."
 

Michelin Pilot Super Sport:

These are not even in the same performance category as any other tire on this page.  (Literally- TireRack classifies them in a lower performance category.)  They're a compromised "luxury" performance tire that trade off actual performance for a quiet soft ride with good mileage and long tread life.  The biggest advantage is that they're available in a huge number of sizes and if you have 20", 21" or 22" wheels, you may not have much choice.  They're not a bad tire, but are simply not competitive for autocross or time trial.  If you've never experienced the newer/faster tires, you'll probably love them on your car, but don't expect record breaking timeslips.

 
Availability: Available in a ridiculous number of sizes between 17-22".  While you may want to consider different wheels to fit some of the quicker tires, If you're in a modern sports car and can't find the size MPSS you want, you might want to consider a different car!
 

Anyone else have experiences, anecdotes and/or testing to add?


Edited by sjfehr, 22 April 2017 - 03:28 PM.
Added SUR4G early information.

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#2 diode_ee

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Posted 23 January 2016 - 07:04 AM

Thanks for posting Steve. Once I burn through my old ZIIs I'll need to replace them with something a bit fresher.

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#3 KeithK

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Posted 23 January 2016 - 12:27 PM

Kumho is now offering the V720 in a 255/40-17    

 

That's a new size.

 

They are $128/tire.  Same size RE-71R is $190, Rival S is $220.

 

Mine should ship soon.   8)


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#4 00Lude

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Posted 24 January 2016 - 05:40 PM

I'm planning on 2 sets of 71Rs this year. I pushed mine hard early (once I got started) and it showed by the end of the year.

#5 sjfehr

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 07:32 PM

GRM made Andy Hollis's 200TW track tire article from last year public.  Spoiler: RE-71R won with Rival S extremely close behind.  I've heard a lot of Chumpcar teams are running ZII*, though, because unlike the BS & BFG, ZII* will last an entire race.  We're still waiting to see what Maxxis does, but the testing is otherwise still current & valid and worth a read if you're looking for a track tire:

 

https://grassrootsmo...es/one-hot-lap/



#6 sjfehr

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 06:31 AM

Maxxis's new 200TW performance tire, Maxxis VR-1, is available and people are starting to get them. Grassroots Motorsports wrapped up their testing of the VR-1 last weekend; we should see the track test in the next issue and the autocross testing after that.  (Andy said in a teaser that they felt a lot like AD-08R in the way they handled; he and David both liked the tire.) The first detailed review to hit the web (CSG Mike @ ft86club) compares performance to the ZII* and R-S3, but for cheaper  (about $100 cheaper per tire, at least in 18").  
 
 
It reportedly loves heat, has decent tread life, gives very good grip, and is cheaper than most of the competition.  One of the sizes is a special competition drift tire only molded to 6/32" and not eligible for SCCA autocross.  Word is they're not as quick as RE-71R or RivalS and need heat to work, so they probably won't be a go-to competition autocross or time-trial tire, but it does sounds like VR-1 may be a great endurance racing/DE tire.  
 
Sizes available per Maxxis' website:
205/50ZR15
245/40ZR15
205/55ZR16
255/40ZR17
245/40ZR18
265/35ZR18
295/40ZR18* (6/32" special size for drift competition)


#7 sjfehr

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Posted 03 May 2016 - 04:57 PM

Grassroots Motorsports make last year's tire test article public.  If you don't have GRM and haven't seen it, it's worth a read:

https://grassrootsmo...-tire-shootout/



#8 sjfehr

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Posted 29 October 2016 - 01:00 PM

Maxxis is reportedly adding some new VR-1 sizes for 2017:
 
205/50ZR15
225/45ZR15 NEW
245/40ZR15
205/55ZR16
215/40ZR16 NEW
215/40ZR17 NEW
225/45ZR17 NEW
245/40ZR17 NEW
255/40ZR17
225/40ZR18 NEW
245/40ZR18
255/35ZR18 NEW
265/35ZR18
275/35ZR18 NEW
285/35ZR18 NEW
295/40ZR18 (200tw / 9/32" version) NEW


#9 sjfehr

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 11:15 AM

Nice summary here of what's coming in 2017:

http://www.tracktune...t-tire-overview


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#10 sjfehr

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 10:34 AM

Hankook R-S4 is available for pre-order from Tirerack, with the first shipments expected in March.  They're priced much higher than R-S3 was, which is unfortunate.  No word yet as to how they perform for track or autocross.

 

 http://www.tirerack....del=Ventus R-S4



#11 sjfehr

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 05:08 PM

Tirerack has pulled the listing for the time being, pending more information from Hankook.  Hankook is well known for zero communication with their customers and companies like Tirerack having no idea what they're getting or when until the container shows up and they open in.  Here are the R-S4 sizes they're expecting:

 

195/50R15 HK VENTUS R-S4
225/45R15 HK VENTUS R-S4
245/40R15 HK VENTUS R-S4
205/45R16 HK VENTUS R-S4 XL
205/55R16 HK VENTUS R-S4
225/50R16 HK VENTUS R-S4
215/45R17 HK VENTUS R-S4
225/45R17 HK VENTUS R-S4 XL
235/45R17 HK VENTUS R-S4
245/40R17 HK VENTUS R-S4
255/40R17 HK VENTUS R-S4 XL
225/40R18 HK VENTUS R-S4
235/40R18 HK VENTUS R-S4
245/40R18 HK VENTUS R-S4
255/35R18 HK VENTUS R-S4
265/35R18 HK VENTUS R-S4 XL
265/40R18 HK VENTUS R-S4
275/35R18 HK VENTUS R-S4
275/40R18 HK VENTUS R-S4
285/35R18 HK VENTUS R-S4 XL



#12 sjfehr

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Posted 02 February 2017 - 05:43 AM

There was a nice article in SportsCar this month about Nexen's testing for a rapid-cycle upgrade of the SUR4 (not competitive) to the SUR4G, with the new tire anticipated in March.  Besides Nexen being serious about their extreme performance tire, we know very little about the new update.  They just released the sizes, though:

 

https://www.nexentir...ce/n-fera-sur4g


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#13 Gauntlet85

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Posted 06 February 2017 - 10:20 AM

Nice read. The Bridgestone sounds really impressive. 



#14 sjfehr

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Posted 06 February 2017 - 11:55 AM

Nice read. The Bridgestone sounds really impressive. 

Thanks :)  And yes, RE-71R is an amazing tire, with all the grip and performance of an r-comp but with the safety and ease of a street tire; it's only real cons are short life and cost. This tire has come out either on top or near-tie in every test thus far in every performance condition.   What makes the decision difficult is that there are tradeoffs in every tire, and people's setups and driving styles are different: while you will probably be fast on RE-71R no matter what car you have (which makes it an easy button for most competitors), many have found one of the other tires a better match for their driving style, or that they're just as fast on one of the less expensive competitors like V720.  RivalS works better at higher slip angles than RE-71R, for instance, so people that have a very loose style often like it better.  There's some complex spring rate stuff going on, too; RE-71R has a much stiffer sidewall than most of the others so in some cases (especially cars with a very stiff suspension), a softer sidewall tire like RivalS or V720 just couples better.  I also like that RE-71R deals well enough below 32F that I can daily drive it all year like I used to with Dunlop ZI* and ZII.

 

I haven't updated this thread for 2017 yet because little has changed so far.  R-S4 and SUR4G are due out soon and may prove competitive with RE-71R and RivalS, but test data isn't available yet.  The updated small sizes of RivalS should be out soon too and may offer better performance than last year.



#15 KeithK

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Posted 06 February 2017 - 03:40 PM

If you are considering the Kumho V720, (of all places) Walmart.com is currently discounting this tire and offering free shipping.

 

This could save you about a C-note on a set of four as compared to more traditional retailers.

 

Figures... I've already spent my money elsewhere.


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#16 mr.beachcomber

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Posted 06 February 2017 - 04:58 PM

Here's a link to the Walmart ship-to-home Kuhmo V720 tires.



#17 sjfehr

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 11:24 AM

I just saw a very informative post regarding RE-71R and heat management from someone who spoke to an engineer at Bridgestone about it.  The sweet spot for RE-71R grip is 120-130F.  They can tolerate brief temperatures at 160F.  If your tires are full of black dust when you flip them, your pressures were too low.



#18 sjfehr

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Posted 08 March 2017 - 05:49 AM

Last year's GRM testing of Maxxis VR-1 and the updated RivalS is available to the public now: 

 

https://grassrootsmo...ss-2016-part-2/