Can Slick Tyres Make A Road Car Significantly Faster On Track?

Tyre Reviews latest test pits two Pirelli road tyres against a pair of slicks to see the differences in lap times
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For purpose-built racing cars in dry conditions, the slick tyre is king. If the weather’s playing ball, you want the best contact patch possible, so getting rid of the tread entirely is the way to go. But what about a reasonably ordinary road car that hasn’t been designed with such boots in mind? Will a set of slick tyres really make that much difference over a road-legal semi-slick?

Thanks to Jonathan Benson of Tyre reviews, we have our answer. Using a Hyundai i30 N Fastback at Pirelli’s Tazio Nuvolari test track in Italy, Benson tried out a quartet of tyres. First up was a standard P Zero PZ4 ‘ultra ultra high performance’ tyre designed to be good in both wet and dry conditions, followed by a more dry-focused Trofeo R. Then, he sampled two different sets of slicks using the same compounds but different constructions.

The first is a 235mm wide tyre usually found on the front of a Ferrari Challenge car, and the second is a 245mm-wide hoop used by vehicles in the various TCR series around the world.

Can Slick Tyres Make A Road Car Significantly Faster On Track?

The reduction in lap time was the most substantial when switching from the PZ4s to the Trofeo Rs. Benson expected the slicks to be only marginally faster, but no - they were still capable of lopping off a decent chunk of time, while also making the car feel incredible. It was noticeably different not just in terms of cornering but also braking, with even heavy applications of the middle pedal failing to trigger the ABS.

We’ll let Benson deliver the lap times and give some more detailed driving impressions, but it’s safe to say he’s a fan of the slicks.


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