Getting a grip @ ApocaLaps
Cutting fast laps becomes an addiction, and as soon as it grips you, all you're thinking of is 'how can I improve my current PB?'
The quickest way to improve your current times, without massive cash outlay, would have to be upgrading tyre choice.
Now, tyres can be as competitive or as economical as you want them to be, but not both.
So how do you know which tyres will give you an edge and which tyres will last the distance?
With mandatory UTQG (tyre index) wear ratings for all tyres represented as a number eg 220AA - it's easy enough to get a quick reference to how each specified model should perform and last. The lower the number the softer the tread compound and thus more grip on offer, the higher the number being a harder compound and the more mileage to be gained, at least according to the boffins calculations anyway.
Naturally your softer compound tyres will give you the edge you need, holding your car straight longer than your regular street issue tyres, but will not give you the longevity that would be expected in a daily driver.
Expect mobs of grip once the tyres heat up, and a little 'tyre pressure tuning' may give you those extra few tenths you're chasing, which all add up to beating any previous PB's, especially so if you want to be at the pointy end of the field once the event winds up. But most of these competition style 'track day' tyres have to give something up in return for this awesome grip - usually longevity and wet weather handling, although there are some more improved offerings in the latter (longevity is, and always will be, proportional to pilot input).
Plus, these tyres do not always have the most user friendly pricing, considering the amount of miles you will get from them, and like most tyre purchases it pays to shop around - BUT lets be honest here, if you're ticking this box you're most likely looking to take a crack at a title / leaderboard, and if there's tread left after the day's punishment then it's a bonus ....... no seriously, if you burn through a set in one autocross event perhaps you need to try re-tuning pressures / minimise hazing the hoops and upsetting the heat cycle / check alignments & toe in settings ... better still, have a good chat with your local reputable tyre gurus who have no doubt seen it all tyre wise.
Having recently run Nitto NT-01 tyres, they seem very capable at keeping my 1969 Camaro 'Angelina' pointing where she needs to be when the redmist kicks in, and seems to hang on with gusto (no doubt holding on longer than where more street friendly versions would see me facing where I'd come from) - they do have the ability to help harness the heavy torque from a big block Chev that would usually result in clouds of smoke, but as mentioned earlier, the trade off being not as many miles on the clock as I may have hoped for.
examples of 100AA rated tyres;
Toyo Proxes R888 / Nitto NT01
** Or there is also the extreme autocross tyres such as Hoosier A6 / R6 (only 40AA) which are essentially just slicks with a thin line groove drawn on them, and are probably a little too serious for our street car based events
But not everyone wants to be buying a new set of tyres for every few events, and unless you're lucky enough to be sponsored by a tyre supplier it's not really a viable option for most (I definitely fall into this category, ......... but if anyone is wanting to see their tyre brand/company on Angelina during any events do let me know!!
A slightly more economical choice (hmmn - economical is probably not the most appropriate word when any racing is involved), perhaps sensible choice, would be the 200AA rating, which offer the nice compromise between the track day specials and the same rubber sitting under your regular driver.
This selection would see your weapon of choice still remain competitive at the track, AND still allow you to drive to and from the event without raising any eyebrows from the law regarding tyre roadworthy limits - not to mention for the next club cruise, coastal run etc etc
And given the recent gains in performance from this range (200AA) this would be the range to hone in on.
This is probably where you'll also find the greater range of choice, and are usually a little bit easier to obtain than the previously mentioned group.
examples of 200AA rated tyres;
Michelin Pilot Sport / Nitto NT-05 / Falken Azenis / Pirelli P Zero Rosso / Kumho Ecsta XS (actually 180, but close enough) .. but there's heaps more if you ask around, the key is the rating number.
These two ranges mentioned are probably the more competitive options available for our autocrossing events, (and definitely reflective of current autocrossing trends in the US) and would generally see the most improvements .. but are not the be all and end all .. tyres are only the catalyst to help pushing your weapon of choice around the circuit in the fastest possible time, but the most influencing factor will always be the pilot behind the wheel.
Limits are always bound by skill and experience, and to increase both requires getting some good track time under your belt.
But don't let the above information dictate any decisions, and only take it as light reading, as there's some guys hitting the tracks that could run cheap rubber and take it to the heavy contenders, alternatively there will be lighter tuned rides taking it to the heavy hitters because they can get their power down to the tarmac.
So it's all horses for courses in the end, and really it's all about getting out there and unleashing your pride and joy with like minded peers, and having an absolute blast whilst doing it!
Note: the above opinions are those of the editor alone and are only intended as a guide for those wanting it.
I couldn't find any local tyre comparison sites suitable for our needs, but for those chasing more info I'd consider looking at the US site www.tirerack.com they have plenty of specs / stats etc for the information hungry.