Strategy, teamwork, practice, the build… These may be the first things you think about when trying to plan your way onto the podium this season, but often you’re forgetting one crucial factor… the tyre. This black circle, is often the most overlooked part of the car. So how does this rubber circle make such a big difference in your performance? Let us explain.
One of the biggest factors a tyre can have when influencing your performance on the track is grip. This ensures that you have just the right of control versus slide. Depending on how you plan on driving, how much grip you need can vary. You can figure out each tyre’s grip by its UTQG rating. This will tell you how soft the tyre’s rubber compound is. The UTQG is a subjective indicator that is measured by the tyre manufacturer about how much grip and tyre life the tyre has. Generally, the lower the number the more grip and shorter lifespan of the tyre, the higher the number the opposite holds true. The softer the compound, the more the rubber will “stick” to the asphalt. Driver’s who track their car can want tyres with a UTQG rating as low as 100 (like the Accelera 651 Sport XTRA), while someone who drifts their car may want a rating of 200 or higher (like Accelera 651 Sport). Need more info on treadwear? Check out our blog on that here.
Tread patterns can influence your car’s performance in a variety of different ways. For instance, a tyre’s tread pattern features grooves and sipes. These are incredibly important for water evacuation on the tyre. That is fancy talk for how your tyre moves water out from under the tyre, so it can make direct contact with the road underneath. Most lateral grooves work to move water forcing out and back of the tyre, while its sipes work to push water out of the sides.
The tread pattern has a lot to contribute and is largely made up of tread blocks, which are created to provide additional grip. To learn more about tread blocks, check out our post about them here. To learn more about the differences between tread patterns, check out our post here.
The part of the tyre that makes contact with the road is often referred to as the contact patch. This generally is the width of the tyre between each sidewall or the tyre’s “shoulders”. The larger the contact patch is, or the tyre’s surface area, the more opportunity the tyre has to create traction. This traction, or grip, gives drivers more control of their car in high-speed conditions. Many drivers who drift, like a wider tyre to provide more control as they skid sideways around each bend. While track guys may like a little width to their tyres, they often opt for something in the middle of the road to promote agility while still providing the grip they need to hug the bends tightly.
How sturdy your sidewall specifically depends on the application you are driving in. For instance, off-road drivers and rally drivers tend to have sturdy sidewalls to avoid blowouts in harsher conditions. Whether you’re on the stage or the trail the likelihood of you hitting a ditch or large rock is higher, and your tyre needs to be able to stand up against those conditions. Drift and track drivers also want a stiffer sidewall to handle the highspeed turns, so they don’t roll under pressure. This is also beneficial if they want to run the tyres at a lower pressure to maximize the grip of the tyre.
The Final Word
To wrap it all up there really is no part of motorsport that can’t directly tie success back to the performance of their rubber. Between its grip, sidewalls, contact patch, and grooves the shoes you put on your car are incredibly important. Just like you wouldn’t wear a hiking boot during a 100-yard sprint, or tennis shoe while climbing the summit of a mountain. The features of the tyre change depending on your specific needs.
No two types of tyres are made to be the same. Each one levies certain highlights to better suit how you drive, and which tyre you run can either give you the added boost you need or land you in a ditch.