October 8, 2014
In late fall 2014, Bridgestone's product team made a visit to Tire Rack headquarters and brought along a set of production-spec Potenza RE-71R tires for us to drive on our test track. For a point of reference, Bridgestone also brought along the Potenza RE-11A to help us gauge the anticipated performance gains of the Potenza RE-71R.
Late morning temperature was in the upper 50s, skies were mostly sunny and the cool wind blowing from the northwest didn't cool our excitement to be driving on the Potenza RE-71R. After a few road miles to break in both sets of tires, we set to work driving them at the limit on our handling track.
Using the Potenza RE-11A as a baseline, our drivers followed our standard test procedure, each taking several flying laps around our track. Like we've found in the past, the Potenza RE-11A proved to be responsive, predictable and stable with plenty of communication to know what's happening in the contact patch. Front/rear balance was good with the rear of the car rotating ever so slightly to help with the last bit of vehicle yaw, allowing the driver to start unwinding the steering wheel early and pick up the throttle to accelerate away from the apex. Ultimate grip level in the dry was good, but anecdotally not quite at the front of the Extreme Performance pack. Past experience shows the Potenza RE-11A (and companion, Potenza RE-11) trades a little ultimate track handling for a more civilized demeanor on the road, but we wouldn't be evaluating ride and noise comfort today.
Moving over to the car equipped with Potenza RE-71R tires, it was back out on the track for more laps. It was apparent right away the RE-71R has more grip than the RE-11A, helping the car really pull down to the apex. In the transitions of our five-cone slalom and at turn-in while still trailing the brakes, the car with RE-71R tires felt locked down, especially at the rear where it didn't seem to have the subtle slip angle the Potenza RE-11A used to round the corners. With the rear end well planted, the front tires still had enough authority to keep up, preventing painful understeer that could slow down lap times.
A look at the data from our Race Technology data loggers showed the Potenza RE-71R was more capable everywhere. The time advantage grew steadily through the lap, illustrating that our drivers were going a little quicker all the time, underscoring their observation of a gain in ultimate grip and the ability to push harder in all phases of the corner, thanks to increased driver confidence.
We also took the opportunity to turn on our sprinklers to make our own rain and find out how well the Potenza RE-71R worked when roads or track are wet. Our test evaluates wet traction, but not hydroplaning. The volume of water we put on the track and typical vehicle speeds around the track doesn't create hydroplaning with new tires, even for those with massive tread blocks and low void ratios like the Extreme Performance Summer tires we drove on for this test. Again starting off on the Potenza RE-11A, we found overall traction to be good (for an Extreme Performance Summer tire), with good feedback and stable handling.
Just as it had done in the dry, the Potenza RE-71R showed a gain over the Potenza RE-11A when the track was wet, thanks again to noticeably higher overall traction. The increase in grip boosted driver confidence, and when the limit was reached the inevitable breakaway was predictable, and easy to manage.
|2014 BMW F30 328i Sedans using new, full tread depth 245/40R18 tires mounted on 18x8.0 wheels. Cold inflation pressure set to 35psi front/rear, with no adjustments made during the test.|
Unfortunately our brief drive on the Potenza RE-71R didn't give the opportunity to test it against other competitors from the Extreme Performance Summer category. But the feel from behind the wheel and some quick napkin math suggest its lap times in both dry and wet conditions are competitive with the newest and quickest Extreme Performance tires on the market. We'll be doing a full road, dry and wet track evaluation in the early summer of 2015 to see how well it performs both on and off the track.
To find out how the Potenza RE-71R does, sign up for our future test results emails.
Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R (Extreme Performance Summer): The Potenza RE-71R is an Extreme Performance Summer tire developed for serious sports car, sports coupe and performance sedan driving enthusiasts looking for Bridgestone's fastest DOT-legal street radial. Starting with a clean-sheet approach and a virtual slick tread, all of the design features were fine-tuned to maximize performance, traction, handling and control. Performance-tuned for dry and damp conditions, the Potenza RE-71R, like all summer tires, is not intended to be driven in near- or below freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice. Read more.
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