Beyond the 400m timing point, at the top end of Sydney Dragway’s strip, lays asphalt free of sticky surface prep. It’s the perfect venue for our first discipline: the slalom test.
A test which is the most telling for dry, real-world agility and grip under severe change of direction. A key indicator, then, for ‘performance’.
The set-up is Tyre Test tradition: a start gate, a tight succession of nine cones spread equidistant to each other and a flying finish gate where each pass, at around nine seconds or less, is timed.
The frequency of the cones is somewhat ‘tuned’ to the AMG so that, from a 50km/h flying start, even the grippiest competitor tyre won’t allow the hot hatch to hit its rev-limiter in the held second gear, a practice that removes potential variables of gear-changing from the timed result.
Also, as is tradition, each tyre gets five timed runs, with both slowest and quickest runs removed so that the official recorded time is calculated as a middle-three-run average.
Feedback-wise, Luff focuses on three key areas: initial turn-in, loaded front-end grip and lateral rear-end load. And there was one tyre conspiring a superior combination of all three to record an untouchable 8.2sec: the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2. It was a full 0.3sec quicker than any rival.
“It’s easily got the most lateral grip of the pack,” Luff says. “It’s the only tyre here that has the AMG lifting its inside rear off the deck.”
It was an extremely close battle between the second-quickest competitors. The Continental ContiSportContact 5P clocked a quick 8.5sec, while the Bridgestone RE050A nailed an impressive 8.53sec time.
Luff reckons that the common suit between these two – and the Michelin – is their ability to commit high levels of loaded/sustained grip and that, when treated to aggressive steering inputs, they all responded with quick and accurate direction changes.
The Toyo Proxes T1 Sport, with its 8.63sec, was no slouch either. Luff was moved to praise the Toyo’s all-round consistency in the dry cut-and-thrust.
The Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 and Falken Azenis FK453 would clock an identical averaged time of 8.73sec, both drawing praise for their predictability though noted for lacking the level of outright grip on tap as the Slalom frontrunners.
Not quite as happy with the Slalom’s fierce direction changes was the Dunlop Direzza DZ102 – its 8.8sec time reflected as much. “It just feels ‘harder’ than most,” Luff explains. Indeed, its extremely durable 460 tread wear rating was the highest of the field.
Rounding out the score sheet thus far was the Winrun R330, its 8.97sec time a full 10 per cent slower than the benchmarking Michelin.
“The Winrun really can’t match the outright grip levels of most of the field,” was Luff’s initial take on the Chinese tyre’s performance.
THANKS TO: SYDNEY MOTORSPORT PARK AND SYDNEY DRAGWAY
These truly are the best facilities in Australia to do a real-world tyre test and we’re grateful we get invited back each year. The Australian Racing Driver’s Club offers plenty of sharply-priced opportunities to track your street car, which should be a regular must for every MOTOR reader. Check out ardc.com.au.