Editor's note- For more in depth conversation about David Whitener's background, and to be blown away by how much this guy, and his wife/team test setup/tires/etc, tune into SlipAngle Podcast, episode 112. -adam
As this years racing season starts the tire wars rage on once again. After a period of relative stability from 2009-2014 the most recent seasons have been quite disruptive with many new options out there for racers to choose. This year looks to be relatively stable with only a few new tire models hitting the market.
First up we decided to test the Toyo R888R, this is a track oriented tire and the successor to the R888 which was one of the most controversial tires in recent history. Many racers didn’t like the R888 and preferred the even older RA1 tire it was designed to replace. Toyo was adamant that the new tire was faster even released a suggested setup guide in 2009: http://www.tiresdirect.net/Assets/Spec_Miata_setup.pdf
Admittedly I never liked the R888, I tried it in a few different sizes on my road racing car and although I could run fast lap times I found it super tough to drive on. With that in mind the first goal in testing new R888R was to see how it drives empirically, independent from the lap times. The second goal is to compare the Toyo to the latest breed of 200TW street tires. As the track day tire market has been relatively stable many track day guys have been questioning whether to buy something like the R888R or get one of the newest 200TW ultra street tires.
So first up we did an autocross test comparing the Toyo R888R to the Rival-S 1.5. The test drivers were myself and my wife Kim. The venue was the permanent autocross test course in Mineral Wells Texas. Our test car was our own 1992 Miata is prepped for Solo STS competition consisting of basic bolt ons: header, intake, 800F/700R springs, sway bars, and of course my own custom Whitener Racing Shocks.
Toyo R888R Results
- Kim Toyo Best 24.28 Average 24.57
- David Toyo Best 24.12 Average 24.30
BFG Rival S 1.5 Results
- Kim BFG Best 24.13 Average 24.53
- David BFG Best 24.19 Average 24.29
As you can see the lap times are almost identical. Both drivers reported the Toyo to be somewhat muddy and required a good degree of learning to execute fast laps. The BFG on the other hand was super crisp and easy place providing superhero confidence in the slalom. One interesting note was the BFG was worse when dead cold but only needed a few turns to start working. The Toyo on the other hand actually had more grip dead cold but needed multiple laps to warm up to it’s optimal grip. And it’s that long warm up time that ultimately reminds us that the Toyo really isn’t designed for autocross. For the purposes of the test we decided to preheat both tires.
Next up we hit up Motorsports Ranch in Cresson Texas for a track test. There the track oriented R888R came to life offering prodigious grip. More importantly the Toyo seemed to tolerate a good degree of slip angle and had moderately progressive break away (the main areas where the predecessor R888 were known to be weak). We had planned a timed comparison between the two tires unfortunately mechanical issues with the car prevented that from taking place. My best guess is that the Toyo was running about a second quicker than the BFG.
In the end I would say the R888R is a awesome track weapon and I believe a step ahead of the ultra street tire class tires. And fo those people who tried the old R888 and didn’t like it the new R888R is different enough to give Toyo another shot.
The other new tire to hit the market in 2017 is the eagerly awaited Hankook RS4. The previous versions of Hankook tires have been extremely well regarded in the racing community, offering both tons of grip along with a long lifespan and low operating costs. As many racers are clamoring for any shred of information on how the Hankook performs I decided to throw together a quick and dirty 3 run autocross showdown between the Hankook RS4 and the BFG Rival-S 1.5. This was done using the test course at the SCCA Dixie National Tour and again used my 92 Miata:
David Hankook | 29.71 | 29.21 | 29.46 | Best 29.21 | Average 29.46
David BFG | 29.22 | 29.19 | 29.12 | Best 29.12 | Average 29.18
The biggest difference between the tires was how well they worked cold. The Hankook was terminally pushy for the first half of each run where the BFG exhibited much milder push which only lasted for the first one or two turns. The Hankook had a fair bit worse turn in and was harder to place the car. Overall my impression was that for autocrossers in hot climates the Hankook may work well, but given it’s shortcomings and lack of contingency I doubt Hankook will be upsetting the applecart this season.
Thanks to Track Tuned for hosting this and a big thanks to Texas Track Works for their expert mounting and balancing.
This test was not sponsored in any way by any of the tire companies.
Are you guys interested in a timed track test with the R888R? Let us know in the comments and Facebook.