Oversized tyres: Michelin demonstrates at Estoril
During the Michelin Pilot Performance Days, the manufacturer proposed a test to verify the advantage of fitting oversized tyres to a super sports car. To do so, it fitted an Audi TT RS with three different sets of tyres. Verdict: oversizing is essential to get the most out of a vehicle prepared for the circuit.
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The car: Audit TT RS
With its 5-cylinder 340-horsepower turbo engine, the Audi TT RS is an efficient coupé, and quite easy to drive. However, like many cars with four-wheel drive, the front axle lacks some precision. To correct this, Michelin offered to optimize the tyres.
The test: one car, three different sets of tyres
The test took place on the circuit of Estoril, near Lisbon in Portugal. The tyre maker offered the testers three Audi TT RS fitted with different tyres:
- Michelin Pilot Sport 2, dimensions: 245 40R18 97Y
- Michelin Pilot Sport 2, dimensions: 255 35ZR19 96Y
- Michelin Pilot Sport Cup, dimensions: 265 35ZR19 98Y
Michelin Pilot Sport 2, 18 inch:the original tyres for this dimension. These were the tyres used as a reference. The Michelin Pilot Sport 2 were effective and progressive, but were unable to deal with the lack of precision on the front axle.
Michelin Pilot Sport 2, 19 inch: the car was absolutely identical to the first. Fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport 2 higher, wider and lower in profile. The first corners showed that the floating sensation on the front axle had been significantly reduced. The tyres were more accurate and safer. This was confirmed on the track's corners, taken at over 160 kph.
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup: the test was done at the wheel of an Audi TT RS enhanced by the tuner MTM with adjustable KW suspension, large brakes, engine tuning to 424 horsepower and above all Bimoto rims fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup in 265 35ZR 19 98Y.
On the track, the Pilot Sport Cup is in its element. This is to be expected as this is a semi-slick tyre, i.e. a track tyre certified for road use. It is logically more radical than the previous two sets.
Without a doubt, the oversize suspension and brakes help give a sportier feel to the car, but the work of the tyres is that bit more perceptible. The Pilot Sport Cup allows good track feedback and is rigorous in its changes of direction.
Corners 9 and 10, which were very tight, allowed the tyres' excellent precision to be fully expressed. Despite the constraints of the huge engine in this technical section, there was no understeer (loss of traction on the front axle).
The Pilot Sport Cup is thrilling, exciting to drive and impressively efficient. However, its lack of versatility, particularly in the wet, means it is not quite compatible with everyday use. The Pilot Sport 2 19-inch is the logical alternative: it is an excellent compromise between driving pleasure, comfort and aesthetics.
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