There's nowhere for a tyre to hide on a racetrack. It needs to repeatedly brake, turn, grip and go, often at the same time. And while our motorkhana circuit won’t make the Supercar’s calendar, its tight hairpins and fast sweeping right-hander is more than enough to sort one-trick ponies from true all-rounders.
Considering the course’s short length, Luffy will do three laps to reveal even the slightest performance differences. Each three-lap run is timed on a stopwatch. We have a Driftbox for back-up, but it only goes to one decimal place.
Starting off with the Dunlop, Luffy earmarks the German-made hoop’s talent early, saying “its ability to carry speed into the corner, and not wash out with any mid-corner understeer”, was really impressive. Positive signs indeed.
The Continental next makes a charge for the Dunlop’s time. It finds more grip in corners, generating an extra 0.05G, but can’t find speed elsewhere. The Goodyear and Falken then mount an attack. They end up only two hundredths apart from each other and match the Dunlop’s peak 1.03G during their runs, but can’t get within a second of its leading time.
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Things gets progressively worse from here, the Laufenn, Invo and Nexen each going slower than the tyre before it. “That harder compound gives [the Laufenn] more understeer and ultimately affects the grip,” Luffy remarks. He’s similarly disappointed in the Nitto Invo, saying “you can feel the level of grip start to fall away quite early in the corner,” and the Nexen, adding “again it’s just that overall lack of grip.”
Things improve when Luffy arrives smiling after testing the HiFly Challenger. “That was fun,” he blurts. “Through the sweeper, they tend to oversteer, but as they get hotter they grip up.” Though they still can’t convince the stopwatch.
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The competition Pirelli does a better job by registering the first decent time since the Falken, but it’s the Kumho that puts everyone on notice. “Look out Conti,” our timekeeper says as he reads the PS91’s time. Luffy’s eyebrows are raised as he enters the pits, surprised by its turn of speed.
While the Kumho’s cracking pace would have bagged it second place in the motorkhana, the control tyre data has other plans. Its performance improves through the day, giving earlier run tyres an advantage, and thus hoists the Continental above the Kumho and into second place. But that’s the single change in the whole field and leaves the Dunlop as our motorkhana lap-meister.
Laying down the rubber on MOTOR Tyre Test 2018