(Portions of the following are from outside articles – copyright the Tire Rack and also Road & Track magazine)
Michelin claims its new top-line Super Sport is the fastest performance road tire in the world. For doubters, or even competitors, Michelin does have some credentials to back up its claims: It has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and its tires are even found on NASA’s Space Shuttle. The new Super Sport is the result of Michelin engineers testing some 80 different tire specifications covering over 30,000 miles under harsh conditions. And more than 60,000 miles were also spent with manufacturers such as BMW (M division), Ferrari and Porsche at various racetracks around the world to ensure the Super Sport meets all the performance requirements.
The three core technologies that underpin the Super Sport are: 1) High-density Twaron fiber that wraps around the tire to ensure structural rigidity and shape at high speeds; 2) a bi-compound tread design where 80 percent of the inner rubber is optimized for wet traction and the remaining 20 percent on the outer portion is for dry handling (in the past it has been a 50/50 split) and; 3) the advancement in software simulation that allows tread pattern and compound formulation to better spread pressure and temperature consistently across the contact patch even under loading.
In days of testing Audi TTs, BMW M3s and Porsche 911s equipped with the new Michelins around the Dubai Autodrome racetrack, the Super Sport’s most impressive capability came to light—extra turn-in grip available at mid-corner even when you think you’ve reached the limit of adhesion. As the tire howls and starts to exhibit understeer, dial in more steering—which is counter-intuitive when trying to alleviate understeer, At this point, however, the car will actually turn in more. Michelin engineers say this is possible thanks to a more sustainable maximum lateral grip limit due to a flatter traction fall-off tire characteristic. This is a very welcome advancement for novices or pros to gather the car back up after diving into a corner too fast or too deep.
Compared to other tires present at the test—the Bridgestone Potenza RE050A, Goodyear Eagle F1, the Continental ContiSportContact and even Michelin’s own Pilot Sport 2, the Super Sport’s increased dry handling and stability under braking is appreciable. Even in the wet, the new Michelins seem to grip the asphalt with more confidence. Compared to the Pilot Sport 2, the Super Sport laps about 1.5 sec faster on a racetrack, can stop almost 5 feet shorter from 62 mph in the dry, and stop nearly 10 feet shorter from about 50 mph to 5 mph in the wet. On top of that, the new tires have a 10-percent longer life.
The Michelin Super Sport comes standard on high-performance sports cars such as the Ferrari 458 Italia and the Porsche 911 Carrera. Fitment ranges from 18- to 22- in. wheels, in widths ranging from 225 to 345 and aspect ratios from 25 to 45. The top Super Sport is rated at more than 186 mph if the total weight of the car is between 85 percent and 100 percent of the load capacity.
Pilot Super Sport tires are comparatively light, with weight savings of up to 10% compared to other tires of similar dimensions. This reduces unsprung weight to improve handling.
Look for the Super Sport to show up on new cars in early 2011 as standard equipment. It will be available for sale in April 2011, priced close to the outgoing Pilot Sport 2 tire.