Track days are becoming increasingly popular and one of the most important things to get right if you are to get the most out of your day is to have the correct tyres. Using a “road car” for track days very quickly highlights the compromises that car manufacturers have to make for a car to work well on the road – after a few laps the brakes and tyres give up the struggle to contain a lot of weight on usually smaller than is ideal, road tyres.
Track day tyres differ from “normal” road tyres in 3 key areas –
1] The construction of the tyre [sidewall and tread stiffness] is much stronger than a road tyre. This minimises handling problems caused by the tyre moving around excessively on the wheel and keeps the tread of the tyre in more consistent contact with the track.
2] The compound of the tyre will biased towards a race type compound. A normal road tyre compound is designed to work best at or around the ambient temperature of the day, as soon as it gets hotter than it was designed to cope with, the compound “goes off” and the tyre looses grip. A race type compound’s grip is normally poor at the ambient temperature, however up to a certain point, the hotter it gets, the better grip it gives, and providing it is not operated outside the temperature window where the tyre was designed to work, will provide consistent grip and not “go off”. A lot of people have the misapprehension that track tyres are softer than road tyres – in the majority of cases this is completely wrong, a track compound is much harder than a road compound.
3] The tread pattern of track day tyres whilst road legal, is generally close to the minimum legal requirement, so you end up with as much rubber and as few de-stabilising grooves and sypes as possible. This improves wear rate as there are as few as possible tread blocks squirming around on the surface of the tyre.
As you can see from the above, a track day tyre is a fairly specific product, this makes their road performance and wet weather performance, in most cases, worse than a standard road tyre.
BMTR stock several brands of track day tyres by Avon, Yokohama, Federal and Dunlop.